Friday, August 24, 2007

Memory Stuff

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?


Lex said...

That's awesome!!

I loved reading the classics in school, but in my private life, I've only recently (within the last 5 years) started to read fiction.

I will read just about anything dealing with my interest du jour.

At the moment I'm reading the Harry Potter series from beginning to end. But my book shelf is a hodge podge of philosophy, religion, self-help, Spanish language, Dummies guides and the like. I am the proud owner of the Oxford Anthology of English Literature, a growing collection of best-sellers and other classics.

I loved Native Son, the Hobbit, Pride and Prejudice, the Narnia Series. I love C.S. Lewis.

What a wonderful gift!!

Sonia said...

I was the same way growing up! Always with my nose in a book. I have a house full of books at home to this day (by husband built me a library in my old house). I love anything by J. California Cooper, a good autobiography (gotta get it straight from the horse's mouth) and my guiltiest pleasure...Sherlock Holmes!! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love this post! My mom bought me a subscription to the "I Can Read Series" when I was five, and I haven't stopped reading since!

Right now I'm reading Harry Potter like every other person in the world, but I recently finished Margaret Atwood's " A Handmaid's Tale" and I love anything by Jodi Picoult. Oh, there are just too many to name!!

Have you ever been to Check it out; it is FANTASTIC!

Amadeo said...

I still have A Wrinkle in Time, To Kill a Mocking Bird and the entire Lord of the Rings series.

jali said...

I KNEW you were a reader! Isn't Harry Potter fun to read?

Hi! Is this the beautiful wife of Tai? I like the new series by Laurie Brown (about Sherlock's romance and marriage)

I've been on Librarything for hours now - I love it! thanks.

I have to find "Wrinkle" and read it again. Did you see the TV special a couple of years back?

~Macarena~ said...

I love crime novels, especially if there's an urgency because someone's missing or there's a killer/bomber on the loose. I'm getting back into romance novels, but they clash with my feminism.

I've only seen one version of P&P and not read Austen, though Becoming Jane renewed my resolve to do so. Why do you like P&P? Do you recommend I read her novels individually or just get the collection? (I am thinking the latter might make me impatient.)

Elaine said...

I love to read and i LOVES people who loves to read. (meaning..I LUVS YOU Jali! ;p)

I love to read anything quite "Junk food" read is anything by Dean Koontz or Stephen King.
I love non-fiction, fiction, history, biography, autobiography, ...again, almost anything but sci fi (sorry) romance or westerns (the viking hubby kind of killed it on the westerns..that's ALL he reads)

phishez_rule said...

I read anything I can get my hands on. Almost. But I was given the gift of an absolutely amazing imagination. I read fantasy and sci-fi. Not trekky type sci-fi. More along the lines of Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park etc). I used to read Sydney Sheldon, but I find all the drama to be anti climatic. I love thrillers and mysteries. Mary Higgins Clark is good, but I don't have any of hers at the moment. I love war stories, and have a few about POW camps in WW2. And action as well. I absolutely love Matthew Reilly.

I have quite a few books that I loved as a teenager. I'm in the process of collecting the Tomorrow, When the War Began series. And I loved Obernewtyn.

I also love animal stories. The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchel is still one of my favorites. And I do have the Narnia Chronicles. My sister bought me the hardback collected works.

I don't read romance.

awaiting said...

Starting in third grade, my sisters always thought I was crazy for taking my allowance and spending our ritual Saturday trip to the mall in the bookstore. I love reading,although I simply have no time for it these days outside reading to the kids. But I am a sucker for crime fiction...anything James Patterson and I love me some Stephen King.

As far as the classics, I have 5 trunks full of classics and books for my kids. Right now, we are reading White Fang before bed.

Anne said...

Great post. Reading is so important for kids. A lot of smart people I know say their parents read to them and took them to libraries when they were little. It really makes a difference.

These days I mostly read nonfiction, but a guilty pleasure is fiction books on tape/cd. It reminds me of being read to when I was little, and I can do other things while listening, even play them during commuting.

Nick said...

I loved Iceburg Slim

Lately I have been into Dennis Johnson and Hubert Selby, and William Vollman.

Reading cures me.

Restaurant Gal said...

"A Wrinkle in Time" continues to be one of my favorites.

I taught "To Kill a Mockingbird" to ninth graders for several years in a row, before the restaurant days. Each year was different, as each year I gleaned something new from that incredible book. And each year, I think a few of my students 'got it' about great writing and learning for the simple wonder of learning.

Thanks for allowing me to remember those days.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have been an avid reader since I was four. I read practically everything except romance and detective stories.

I am very grateful to my parents for fostering this lifelong love affair with literature by example and by having a tremendous library at my fingertips. Reading is probably my greatest pleasure.

M@ said...

The thing I liked about The Happy Hollisters, a German-American family, was that Pete was always getting into fights and getting knocked out.

In every novel, he'd lose consciousness at least three or four times.

Cece said...

OK first off I am so damn glad you are back!! My computer was being repaired so I haven't been able to check in, glad to hear everythiing went well with the surgery.
Ok so now that thats been said: my fav book of all time is Blues Dancing by Diane McKenny Whetstone. She is amazing. I love and have all of her books 4 in total. Look her up. Amazing.

C said...

Great post. Jali you have a great and diverse range of literary interests.

Right now I am reading Shane and this big book for my Managerial Accounting class. Yay school.

I love reading though.

jay bee said...

as an only child, books were my best friends... my mother is still an avid reader, and when i was young, she also fostered the reading bug.

in elementary school we had book fairs, and the local book publisher would display hundreds of young people's titles at discounted prices. i remember my mom would give me 10 or 20 bucks to buy what i want, and once a teacher was so suspicious of my wealth (at 9 years of age, that kind of money was a small fortune in those days) and was sure i'd stolen the money from someone...

i was never big on library books--don't like to touch pages that have been handled by hundreds of people (and who knows where those hands/books have been?) and always preferred to spend my allowance on shiny new tomes.

these days i have many books still waiting to be read, and i continue to buy even though i haven't even touched most of what's on my shelves.

i wait for/imagine a day where i'll be on a month-long vacation where the only thing that would require my attention is a good, thick book (and a tall, frosty, fruity drink of something to beat the heat).

jali said...

P&P is such a wonderful love story and Austin's language is lovely.

I'll try a Dean Koontz based on your recommendation. I love you too!

Remember "The Other Side Of Midnight"? I haven't read any Sheldon for years.

The only King I've read is the "Dark Tower" series. i loved it!

I've never tried a book on tape, but I just may try it in the car.

"Reading cures me." That's a great line that I'll probably steal.

I need to re-read Mockingbird - it's been years.

Adrian got me a couple of romances while I was out - they weren't as bad as I thought they would be - not exactly my cup of tea (or coffee), but I'll read the back of cleaning products or shampoo in the BR if I don't have my book.

You're the first person I've run into who knows Pete, Pam, Holly, Ricky and Sue (who always piped in). Remember the one when Sue dropped her marshmallow into the vat of mashed potatoes?

thanks for the recommendation - I've nevr read her. I'm glad you're back online - I missed you.

Man, Shane! It's been forever since I even thought about it. Maybe I'll do a month or two of "retro reading".

jay bee,
I get that "yuckie" library feeling too - I will borrow sometimes, but ONLY from the "brand new" section.

jali said...

The name is clever as hell!!!!! (You see I didn't get it until just now)

Webmiztris said...

i like all kinds of stuff: chuck paluhniuk, stephen king, augusten burroughs....I'm all over the board. the only thing I discovered I really don't like to read are chick lit books. they're so freakin

Trying2BMe said...

I love to read and feel that is the only thing my mother truly nurtured in me. As a parent, I'm trying to instill that same desire to open other worlds in my daughter.

As for what I read, I'm big into true crime, non-fiction, biographies, horror and a novel here and there. I truly adore the classics and my favorite book of all time is "The Once and Future King". I know a book is good when I forget to see the words and have the pictures flashing in my head.

jali said...

Thanks for the suggestions - I'll try Chuck Paluhniuk - I never heard of him.

Isn't imagination great?! I loved the Once and Future King too.

it's the little things... said...

Excellent story.
My mom was an avid reader as well, though her taste ran to crime mags and crime novels.
I got a degree in Eng Lit, so I've read just about everything there is to read now!

miss tracey nolan said...

You had good parents!

Melanie said...

i just started reading again recently! its been so nice to escape into a good book.

thanks for the memories.

Cleopatra Toson said...

I'm in total agreement with CeCe on Dianne McKinney Whetstone. She's one of my favorites! I have all her books and Blues Dancing is her best work in my opinion. Jali, I can have hubbie bring it to you if you want to borrow it. Just gotta figure out which box its in.... :)

CapCity said...

this is a wonderful post, Jali! I would want to grow up to be your mom, too. LOL! that's the type of mom i'll probably be = burning while reading. ROFLMAO! the greatest gift my parents gave me is the time to read - they just left me alone w/ books...don't think my mother understood my fascination with books - but it kept me out of her hair. LOL! my dad & i share that passion & have our own unofficial book club b'cuz we share books w/ each other all the time! i'm always excited when i can "hip" my dad to a "new" & deep book like Faulkner's Sound & Fury! One of my faves! i could go on & on...but i'll stop before my comment becomes an even longer POST. LOL! thanx for sharing & allowing us to share w/ U!

katrice said...

Welcome back!! I'm so late, it's ridiculous, but I just couldn't help it. I loved this post!

Also a book addict since four, I remember my mom getting me Highlights, Weekly Reader Books and the Childcraft Books.

I still love to read. My favorite book of all time right now is Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes.