I Plead Guilty This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 27, 2017
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“PUT THAT BOOK DOWN IMMEDIATELY!”

I cringed, and hung my head. I was caught reading. Again.

“Finish your math before reading your novel! If you really have to read something, read your math book!”

Why am I interrupted every time I come to an exciting part? It’s not fair. My fingers itched to touch the book. My burning eyes stared at the cover. I have to know what happened! I have to finish the story!

“If I see you reading again before you finish your homework, you will not be allowed to read that book again for three days.” If I am convicted, this is certainly going to be a hard sentence.

I am not going to risk it. With a sigh, I picked up the novel. I looked at it for a minute longer. Please, Mom, let me finish the story! I glanced at my math textbook, and back at my mom. She was glaring at me. It was a struggle, and I threw the book under my desk. Next time I better hire a defense attorney first.

I read when I shouldn’t.

************

I started reading because it was a source of entertainment…who doesn’t enjoy a good book?

I don’t know what to read, but I have to read something, I just have to.

“Can you lend me your Sherlock Holmes book for tonight?” I asked my sister.

“Why?”

Because I felt like reading it. Because I was in the mood to read about the mysteries Holmes had solved. Because it was the right time to read this particular book. Yes, there are perfect times for certain books.

I read for enjoyment.

************

Soon reading became a requirement.

“You have an exam coming up,” my mother told me. “You must study more.”

So I did. Like a sponge I absorbed the material. And I passed the exam with flying colors.

Reading textbooks is not entertaining, but if getting high marks is the result of diligent studying, you can be sure that I will be reading that dry and boring textbook. It’s worth it, and I am still reading.  No objections, I suppose?

I read when I should.

************

And a part of that requirement is to learn through reading.

“Here’s a book for you to read.” My father handed me Keeping a Family Cow, by Joann Grohman. “I don’t have time to read it just yet, but I have found a cow on sale that we could get, so please read the book and learn all you can about taking care of dairy cows.”

Wow, we’re actually going to get a cow! This is going to be exciting.

I finished the book in one and a half days. And we got the cow.

I read to learn.

************

With the knowledge of words, this is what happens…

I picked up a box. There were words on it, so I read them. “The Costco app is here!” it said. “Order prints online with the Costco app.”

There was a time when I was looking for something to read. My eyes lighted on the pile of paper on a table. They were scrunched up, but I saw words on them. I picked one up, flattened it out, and read. It was a receipt from a grocery store. There were words, so I read.

But why? I don’t know. I just like to read.

I read for no reason.

************

There is no escape from words.

“It’s time to practice your driving,” my father said to me.

“I’m coming.”

I got in the car, turned the key, and rolled out of the driveway. My mind tried to remember the protocols of driving. I drove through country roads. I was enjoying the scenery. An intersection was coming up, and suddenly the word STOP stared me in the face. Okay, I will stop. I don’t want to go to court. I still haven’t hired my defense yet.

I read because I have to.

************

But this is ultimately why I love to read…..and I hope there will be no objections…

A package in our mailbox! From the United States! It was a rectangular package. The wrapping was green. From Thrift Books!

This had to be the book I’ve been waiting for! I clutched the package and ran to my room. I carefully cut a slit in the side, and pulled out The Malacca Conspiracy by Don Brown. Yes! It had finally arrived. The book had been enjoyed before, that’s why I got it for seven dollars from Amazon, but I don’t mind reading used books. I slowly opened the cover, and guess what I saw! The book was actually signed by the author! Imagine my surprise and delight.

For the next two or three days I lived in the book. I read it in the morning. I read it in the afternoon. I read it at night. The book was a bone-chilling thriller. I was jerked from Singapore to Malaysia, to the United States. My heart pounded wildly as I read on. Nuclear bombs threatened the characters’ lives, and they raced around the clock to stop the terrorists. The author’s sarcastic humor delighted me. I was captivated by the intensity of the plot. I could not put the book down, until at last, all was well. The book became a favorite.

I read to escape into another world.

************

I do not remember when I picked up and read my first book. I only know that I loved reading as long as I could remember. Words delighted me in their ability to convey meaning and emotions. Words, they tell me things I otherwise would not have known. Novels, they allow me to live in another world, if only for a few hours.

Sometimes reading gives you bonuses. For example, before I read Don Brown’s Hostage, I didn’t know what a JAG officer was. I didn’t know what a court-martial in the US military was like. I was just reading for fun. But when the main character of a book is a JAG officer, you can’t help but try to find out what a JAG is. So I did, and yes, I now know what a JAG officer is. And from the descriptions of court proceedings in the book, I now have an idea of what a court-martial is like. All from reading a novel. This shows that reading novels are not a waste of time!

I shake with excitement whenever I pick up a novel I haven’t read before. I turn it over and read the back. I study the front. And then, I open the cover. I read the preface if there is one. And the acknowledgements. And the dedications. Finally, I turn to chapter one. This is where it begins.

************

I don’t have a 6-figure salary, I can’t afford a defense attorney. That doesn’t really matter because I am going to be my own defense. But as you might probably know, I never studied law. I don’t know of anything I can do except to plead guilty if I am guilty, and not if I am not guilty. Simple!

And so, to the charge of reading for enjoyment, to the charge of reading when I should, to the charge of reading to learn, to the charge of reading to escape into another world, and even to the charge of reading for no reason, I plead guilty. I am guilty as charged, and I am proud of it. I cannot live without books.

To the charge of reading because I have to, I plead not guilty. I didn’t put the stop sign there.

But there is one more…

For the crime of reading when I shouldn’t, don’t condemn me yet.

I wish to get a lighter sentence. There is only one thing to do.

I plead guilty.






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