Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Life as a Reader

I'm writing this as part of Melanie Holtsman's Blog Challenge

I can only barely remember life before reading. I specifically remember how I learned to read. It was a book called "Ann Likes Red" which, of course, was my absolute favorite and was read to me over and over and over and over (in the way of all 3 or 4 year-olds!). I really do remember the moment when I realized that those things - squiggles - on the page matched up with the sounds of the story my parents kept retelling! And then, I went over every page and added an "e" to every occurrence of the name "Ann", because it was not spelled correctly ;-)

- - As I was writing this, I searched for the book, just looking for an image, and found a fantastic background story by/about the author - Dorothy Jane Mills

Further memories of reading are like snapshots of my life. I remember getting my first library card when we lived in Kentucky. Oh bliss! I was allowed to pick out books to take home! Whole shelves of wealth! And when I went to a new school within the next year and I was told I could have *7* books at a time! I went bonkers! I know that one of those books was a copy of King Arthur stories. I also remember that I tried to put all of the books in my desk (a hinge-top) and my desk wouldn't shut.

We moved in with my grandparents for a little while later that year. Someone dug up old copies of Nancy Drew, Little Orphan Annie, and the Dana Girls mysteries. The paper in those books was crispy and a little brown around the edges. I can still smell those books in my memory. I ravened through newer Nancy Drew (oh! titian hair!) Alfred Hitchcock's Three Investigator's series, and all of Louisa May Alcott (if my second son had been a girl, he would have been named Louisa).

At some point, I started reading HGWells, which naturally led into Isaac Asimov. I every one of his books, collected the Foundation series, eventually met the great man and got his autograph on those books! I had every issue of his IA's Science Fiction magazine and the non-fiction articles fed into my love of science.

At the same time, I was working my way through Agatha Christie (even in math class, where I was reading behind my book. So was my best friend Amy). Menolly from Dragonsong became the character I most wanted to be. And then, at some point, my babysitter accidentally left behind her copy of "The Hobbit". To this day, I have read "The Hobbit" and TLOTR more than forty times through (yes. 40. sue me.) I began a ritual of reading the series every spring during college and dragged my friends into the ritual as well. 65° days in Blacksburg, VA. Sunbathing in a purple bikini outside Shanks and Rasche Halls and passing around volumes 1, 2, and 3.

Somewhere, I've left out Jane Austen. I think I was the only person in my whole high school who thought Jane Austen's books were hysterically funny. My favorite is Northanger Abbey, because poor Catherine is so deluded! An unfortunate by-product of my Austen-reading years were a collection of red-penned spelling errors on my English papers due to my habit of spelling honour, colour, favour etc. as Jane did.

Fast-forward a whole lot of years. I still love science fiction. Sheri Tepper is my favorite for thought-provoking stories. I'm re-reading the Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey and the books by Tamara Pierce because everyone needs some mental bubble-gum in their lives ;-) I'm enjoying the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson books with my teenager, all of the Ranger's Apprentice books that my 10yo loves, laughing out loud at Stephanie Plum novels, and waiting waiting waiting for the next Amelia Peabody story along with the chemistry teacher. I'm inspired by Greg Mortenson. I look for teaching ideas in the "What Works" series of books as well as anything written by Rick Wormeli. Michael Pollan is my new favorite non-fiction author and I truly admire Barbara Kingsolver for "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." I have a collection of Christmas books that I bring out in November. "Gift of the Magi" makes me cry every year.

Wow. I honestly cannot imagine what it would be like to never again read a book. I have not yet ventured into the realm of Kindle/Nook/whatever. It will happen, I'm sure. But, snuggling up, turning pages, losing the world - it's just the best.


  1. You'd love a Kindle. :)

    Great opening blog post, Anne!

  2. Thanks, I may really have to think about it. It might be a huge $ drain, though. It's awfully easy to just do a request on whatever I want to read at the library.

  3. I loved Nancy Drew as well. Tried to read every book in the series - obsessive! I know what you mean about the library and I still request books there, but it seems like there is such a long wait sometimes and I sometimes buy a book I don't want to wait for. I have definitely snuggled up with my ipad to read before because I fell asleep with it once! :)