Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain

A Bit of Light Summer Reading

I know a lot of English teachers. And most of the time, they’re full of good suggestions for books to read. Or, when I mention a book I’m reading, they have all sorts of interesting stories to tell – when they first read Agatha Christie on a summer cruise in middle school, or their first time teaching Lord of the Flies. Sometimes, they want to know if I’ve gotten to x, y, or z; they often spoil the plots.

The best thing about these English teachers is that they tend to be married to other English teachers, or at least to equally voracious readers. The second best thing is that I babysit for them. Which means I get to scour their bookshelves for dogeared novels I’ve never even heard of, or sneak a peek at their guilty pleasures – those would be the books they check out of the library. Sometimes, I skim my way through books they teach. Those books are easily identifiable by the dozens of post-its and the five different colored pens that have been used to make notes in it.

The funniest thing about babysitting for English teachers is their reaction to whatever I’m reading when they get home. This summer, I’m reading Nicholas Nickelby by Charles Dickens. I’m about 3 weeks and 250 pages into it, which isn’t too bad. Especially considering the other things I’ve been reading, and the fact that I have a full-time job. But that’s beside the point. One couple came home, and found me curled up under the lamp I’m always curled up under. Reading. Like always. They, like always, wanted to know what I was reading, and they were, like always, surprised and impressed. (Seriously, guys, how many Dickens books do I have to read before you believe that I like him?) But their comments were hilarious.

“Have you gotten to the part where Nicholas and his uncle go -”

“Obviously, she hasn’t! She’s still in the first half of the book!”

“Well, I don’t remember it that clearly. How do I know whether it happened before or after they -”

“Oh stop it! You’ll ruin it for her! aside Sorry honey…”

(Can I interrupt myself for a moment to wonder at the fact that she knew exactly what sections of the book he was about to talk about…? And I’m pretty sure neither has read it in over a decade. Maybe that’s why they are both English teachers.)

The other couple, on the other hand, knew which book I’d brought with me before they left. I’d walked over, with only my book and my phone, so I didn’t have it stashed away in a bag until bedtime. They came home and were surprised to find me still awake:

“Wow. I expected you to be asleep by now. That doesn’t make for interesting reading!”

I think they’d hate me if I told them I’m further through Nickelby than I’ve ever gotten through Pride and Prejudice (that’s their favorite, you see…).

Regardless of the opinions of my English teachers, Nicholas and I are getting along just fine. I expect our relationship to last about another month, at the most. We’ve got a week-long vacation coming up, and I think that will bring our relationship closer to a close. Although he has been competing with ハーリーポッター for a while, and that’s likely to continue. Plus, I need to finish learning how to make friends and influence people, and I’m learning about why they first killed her father. I’ve got a nuclear reactor lecture series and a Czech language course vying for my free time. Just a bit of light reading…you know.

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