Student or Learner
The following is from "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver. I don't understand what the last sentence means.
I can remeber I didn't think much of the poem. Of course, I didn't tell her that. Maybe I just don't understand poetry. I admit it's not the first thing I reach for when I pick up something to read.
"reach for" and "pick up" are used literally. You have to reach for something before you pick it up. The sentence doesn't really need either of these. They could be replaced by "choose".
"It's not the first thing I reach for ..." = There are a lot of things I would reach for before I chose a poetry book.
"When I pick up something [a book, a magazine, a journal, etc.] to read ..." - When I choose something to read ...