Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Becoming a Reader

Maya asked me what I was like as a child? What did I do in school? What did I like to do the most? “I was quiet,” I told her. “I liked books and art, liked writing and learning how to play violin.”

Back in 1978, I didn't think I'd be a writer. I wanted to be a nun (we weren’t Catholic, but the habits looked soooo cool), a Marine (guess I was into uniforms and my Aunt Dorothy was in the Army and she looked sooooo cool).

I loved to read despite my fascination with uniforms, and each time the book fair came to the school library, I'd pore over the possibilities while clutching the $10 bill in my sweaty little hand. I still have Ramona the Brave purchased from one of those fairs. My fourth grade teacher read aloud to us almost every day. My favorite: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.

In junior high, I discovered Judy Blume and Forever. My copy had been passed around by the other girls, the scandalous pages highlighted and dogearred, then confiscated by Mrs. Beasley in fourth period English.

High school came, and I consumed everything by V.C. Andrews, starting with Flowers in the Attic. Holy guacamole! Am I reading what I think I'm…but that’s her brother and... Gross! I am SO going to Hell.

In college, I read to earn my combined degree. Kafka, Dostoevsky,Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez among countless others. In my private reading, I enjoyed Stephen King, Tom Clancy and Jackie Collins. In those novels, I met sexy mob boss Lucky Santangelo, nickel-eyed Pennywhistle the Clown, and square-jawed Republican Jack Ryan.

And now, I read almost everything. Almost.

What books impacted you as a child, as a young adult? Did you get to read whatever you wanted? What books do you still possess that you read so long ago?


  1. Velveteen Rabbit was my fav. I bought Bella some abridged version that skims over the idea that he had a serious illness. It wasn't the same and didn't put the fear in her that I had when I read that section of the book. Is that bad?

  2. It's funny but one of the books that had a great impact on my was Mein Kamph. Have you heard of it? If you have, then you probably think I'm crazy. I'll have to explain that to you one day. Then There's the book that I really loved, but I can't remember the name, the author, or even what the cover looks like. It was a book that interviewed like 100 sisitas and told their stories. It was very shocking to me the number of sisters who have been sexual assualted. But even more straggering was the number of them that didn't report it. I think the book was called To My Brothers With Love, but I can't find anything under a search. Rachel, you got any ideas?

  3. When reading many a Disney fairy-tale, I've skipped over lots of 'dead' princesses and 'evil witches'. Replaced it with 'hurt' and 'bad queen'. Censorship, yes, but I'm not really interested in explaining 'kill', 'evil' and 'witch' to a four-year old.

  4. I haven't read Mein Kampf, but it would be interesting-horrifying to read Hitler's words. I think I know that book about assault, but I can't place it.