Monday, October 26, 2009
I'm fairly certain that Timmy Mouse by Miriam Clark Potter (illustrated by Tony Brice, published by Rand McNally) sparked my childhood passion for reading. We didn't have a lot of money when I was a child, and I only remember owning two books...this one and a Rand McNally publication of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. And these were probably given to me or one of my sisters as a gift. I remember having these when we lived on the family farm. When I was eight years old, we sold our farm to my brother (he is 20 years older than I) and moved into town.
The greatest discovery of my life was Briggs Public Library in Ironton, Ohio. I went with my friend whose dad took us. I was totally enthralled with the unbelievable notion that I could take as many books as I liked, without charge, and read to my heart's content. In two weeks, I could bring all of them back and start all over again! What a miracle that was to me! Another friend of mine who was a non-reader was a total enigma to me. Her aunt had bought her a whole set of Nancy Drew Mysteries and she never opened one of them! I asked to borrow them and she willingly let me take them home with me. It was supposed to be a permanent arrangement, but her mother found out and made me bring them back. I was devastated, but knowing I could borrow them whenever I pleased brought me consolation.
I went from Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys and then to Trixie Belden Mysteries. Trixie was like the younger Nancy only more down home. She wasn't cool and sophisticated like Nancy, and I could more easily identify with her character. She lived on Crabapple Farm and her best friend was Honey Wheeler (loved her name) and they belonged to the Bob-White Club.
We moved back to the country when I was starting 7th grade and I no longer had ready access to shelves of books. The county bookmobile became one of my best friends. I would check out twenty books at a time, barely able to carry them to the car.
When I was in eighth grade, my tastes started getting a little more grown-up. Wow! I'll say! I managed to get a copy of Valley of the Dolls by Jacquelin Susann. I got in trouble for showing all the risque passages to my friends at school. My principal "suggested" that it would be inappropriate to bring that particular book to class again. She didn't say anything about Peyton Place though! I had pretty eclectic taste in my reading material. I still read young teen books. I loved Lois Duncan and Ann Head (remember Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones?), Rosamond du Jardin, Betty Cavanna...I could go on, but I'll spare you.
In high school, I was totally obsessed with Gothic Romance novels. Of course Emily Bronte set the standard with Wuthering Heights and Charlotte with Jane Eyre, but at that time in my life I was into more recent authors. I wanted to be that governess in books by Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, Phyllis Whitney, Barbara Michaels, Mary Stewart. Like most obsessed readers, once I found an author, I read everything by them until the supply was exhausted.
Also during high school, I read every best-seller I could get my hands on and I had a fixation on books about World War II, fiction and non-fiction alike. I would read until 2:00 a.m on a school night. I think I read every single book in our small school library. In certain classes (with boring, repetitive teachers), I would make a little fortress of my textbooks and read a paperback behind them. Believe it or not, I never got caught and still managed to graduate with honors.
When I was a young mother, I felt tied down, overwhelmed, exhausted and just looking for a little escape from my humdrum life....so I turned to Harlequin Romances. Yikes! I can't believe I'm admitting that, but, hey, don't knock them too much. They were short, easy to read, and they always, always had happy endings. Some of the authors were surprisingly good writers and a few (Barbara Delinsky, Janet Dailey, Nora Roberts, etc.) went on to become mainstream romance writers. Yeah, most of it is formulaic dreck, but they filled a niche in my life and then I got over them.
I still tend to find an author and read everything they've written. Two recent ones have been James Lee Burke who writes the "Dave Robicheaux" mysteries (I got interested in them when we lived in Louisiana where they're set) and Carl Hiassen whose books about southern Florida make me laugh out loud. I couldn't possibly list all the books I've ever read, but I would most likely recognize them if I saw them listed. I don't read as much as I should these days, mainly because I'm on this darned computer too much, but I'm trying to strike a happy medium with less computer time and more reading time. I want to regain my childhood/adult passion.
P.S. My current read is The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian.
P.P.S. This Timmy Mouse isn't my original one. I found this one at Alibris. It's a great source for out-of-print books at reasonable prices.
P.P.P.S. This is a duplicate post of the one on Lens.Us.Together.