What can YOU say in six sentences?
Beautiful bookstores in Gita’s topic got me thinking about books, of all things. Possibly one of the best things my dad ever did for me and my brother was signing us up for Weekly Reader. Never knew what was going to be inside that flat cardboard box sitting on the kitchen table. I recall many of the stories, but lately I’ve been thinking about the colors of the covers themselves--vivid blues or magenta or slime green.
Who wouldn’t want to pick up a book that looked like this:
Then there were the book sales in the library crawl space in middle school. Neat stacks of undog-eared, perfectly flat, crisp books begging to be brought home, like this one:
Some of the books were assigned reading, of course, and who in their right minds actually read that stuff and wrote their reports, anyway? Only dorks really read and tried to grasp “Thus I Refute Beelzy” or “Hiroshima.”
What books from your childhood set you on a lifelong path to being a reader? Are the stories and colors still vibrant with you today?
I started off devouring those Reader's Digest condensed books, the ones with four novellas in each edition. The first full-length novel I read (in 1970) was "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo." The second (1971) was "The Exorcist," mainly because I wanted to know why all the Baptists in the family were so upset by it. Then came several paperbacks, including Kyle Onstott's "Child of the Sun," which, well, opened my eyes to subjects not taught.
why is it that a fictional fiction story all made-up like, makes me give pause, makes me afraid, makes me not want to see it (rather like driving by a car wreck or reading the medical textbooks i studied that stoked my curiousity but don't want to see it) yet something tells me inside don't see it because there's something more going on here that your fragile soul can't comprehend: flee!! and i know it superstition, and like "carrie" the novel i read but i cannot watch the movie? we devour words and we are devoured in turn by what we devoured. be careful. woah.
Fantastic topic. A lot of my lifelong habits were formed by a handful of wonderful teachers who challenged me, and the libraries where I retreated when the real world seemed too hostile (which was most days). Mr. Snider, in 5th grade, gave me a copy of Lord of the Flies. It went right over my head, but I kept coming back to it over the years, and it instilled in me a healthy terror of conformity that persists to this day. A Wrinkle in Time was a book that librarians kept pushing on me, and sometimes storms will put me right back there in the kitchen of the Wallace house, about to embark on an adventure through time & space. My mom was a librarian, and to this day I'm grateful to her for turning me on to the work of Robert Cormier. The Chocolate War addressed some of the same dangers as Lord of the Flies, in terms any alienated pre-teen loser could understand, while After the First Death predicted much of our current war-on-terror footing by several decades, and was psychologically brilliant to boot. (I recently reread this book and it stands up--highly recommended.)
I discovered a paperback copy of The Shining in Lexington's public library when I was about 13, and the cover was reflective silver with a small boy's head floating dead center--and no face, just blankness. After that, I read every Stephen King release obsessively until Cell, which was so lazy and contemptuous of the reader that I pretty much gave up on him. At 16, Mrs. Hedrick ("Crazy Jane" to the hundreds of kids whose lives she changed for the better) gave me A Clockwork Orange and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The next year, in my Senior Greek and Modern Lit class, Mrs. Bailey taught the Hunter S. Thompson book. All this took place in a small, conservative Southern town that was (and is) still largely living in some bizarro dream of the 1950s.
Public school rules. Public libraries rule. Good teachers rule. Good Moms rule. Kristine_ES rules.
A Reply to Bill Floyd's book comments:
YES the same applies to me, even though I grew up in a huge Canadian city: public school rules, public libraries rule, good teachers and mothers rule!
A few years ago, I was observing children in Alabama's public schools for a commissioned book I was writing (How an early reading program affects performance in later grades). There was one third grade kid -- I photographed him -- who was curled up in a chair with a Harry Potter book and neither flood nor fire would have distracted him. That boy was ZONED. He was AT Hogwarts. He was in the grip of fiction, man, and I thought: here comes a future writer. The Potter series is a bit tough for an average 8-year old to read and fully grasp, but because of the enriched early reading program, he was waay ahead of the national norm.
oh man... passionate reply! i read lord of the flies and lamanted for humanity, but nobody else understood! i had no one, in my age group, who understood the mirror that was held to us, and when you're that age and realize that you "get it" and nobody else does... it's quite an abandoned feeling.
never read chocolate war, though my husband did, and i was lobbed wrinkle in time but i never read it because it didn't feel interesting enough, but MAN i remember that book coming home to us! wow! the shining was a powerful, frightening story in word, and certainly on film, but it begain in black and white at stephen king's behest, his fingertips. i have yet to embrace thompson, and am grateful to get his vibe from you. writers RULE!