I had a great childhood. My mom was an avid reader and would forget about the chicken and rice on the stove (pre-smoke alarm days – she invented “blackened” food)and travel to Europe or Africa or outer space while sitting at the kitchen table. She would literally lose herself in a novel.
I wanted to be just like my mother and I couldn’t wait to learn to read. I remember that special moment when those odd squiggles on paper made sense to me and I was thrilled to be able to read all by myself. “See spot run” may not seem to be the most exciting sentence ever written, but I proudly read it aloud at the dinner table to my parents and sister (who was a baby and couldn’t read – ha-ha) every night for about a week or so.
A couple of years later, my parents subscribed to “The Happy Hollisters” series of books for kids. We’d receive 2 per month – my sister and I would each grab one, go to our respective corners and devour the new stories. I’d use the night light after bedtime to sneak in a couple of extra chapters – these were detective stories and a chick needed to know ‘whodunnit’ as soon as possible!
By 4th or 5th grade the nuns wanted to expose us to Newbury award winners so we read “A Wrinkle In Time” and “From The Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” – amamzing stuff for a kid. I borrowed my first “Narnia” from the school library and at around the same time snuck peeks at an “Iceburg Slim” one of my friends found. We were shocked and titillated by the graphic language and sexual situations in the Slim novels. We all pretended to understand much more than we actually understood (something I’ve done through the years, unfortunately).
My parents gave me a Reader’s Digest Young Adults subscription for my birthday when I turned 13 – one book by mail per month with 3 or 4 novels condensed in each. I read “Little Women”, “The Good Earth”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, “The Call of the Wild’, and my favorite novel ever written, “Pride and Prejudice” (which I re-read every year.)
As a young teen, armed with a library card, I spent hours choosing new worlds to explore and new authors to love. I read “Portnoy’s Complaint”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Native Son”, various Agatha Christie mysteries and “The Hobbit”.
All this book talk is the result of someone asking me what was the greatest gift my parent gave me. The love of reading is my immediate answer.
What do you read?