What was your book? I’m talking about the book that got you reading. My friend Mandy at the Romance Bookie tells the story of when she first discovered the Princess Diaries books and those got her reading. Mine was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White read to class by my 3rd grade teacher. I loved that book so much I wanted to read it over and over again so I asked for a copy of it that year for my birthday. I think I was eight.
I woke up early that year. My dad was eating breakfast and my mom went off and came back with my birthday present, a hard cove r copy of Charlotte’s Web. It wasn’t even wrapped. I still had an hour before it was time to get ready for school so I started what has become one of my favorite morning traditions. I sat down and read.
What an easy birthday that must have been! No special or extravagant gift. No party that I can remember. Even then I was a homebody loner and didn’t enjoy having more than a few friends over for a big birthday party. That year all I wanted was to read Charlotte’s Web.
Reading became a regular part of my life. Back in the 1970s children’s literature was serious stuff! Dogs died and there were wars. I read a lot of books about Jewish children growing up in World War II Europe like Diary of Anne Frank, Journey to America and The Upstairs Room. I read the Little House books which established my love for historical fiction. I read the Betsy-Tacy books by Maude Hart Lovelace. I stayed away from fantasy books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. These were too weird for me. I did however enjoy A Wrinkle in Time. I think it was the chemistry between Meg and Calvin.
I loved making trips to the Livermore Public Library. I even got a job there when I was in high school. My friends Lisa, Lynda and I would spend summer afternoons sitting around reading. Even when our families went camping Lisa, Lynda and I would read while everyone else went off hiking or tubing. Sending me to my room was never a punishment because I would just pick up a book and read. My mom always said that my teenage rebellion was sitting in my room for hours reading Harlequin Romances.
My adult reading life has been sporadic. In college I could only fit pleasure reading in on winter and summer breaks. When I graduated and started commuting on public transit I discovered daily reading again. Several years later when I had to start commuting by car I was at a loss. Without public transit when would I read? It took me a long time to “figure out” how to read for pleasure when you are a busy working adult. Now I carry a book around with me and steal minutes while I’m standing in line or waiting for Jerry. And I also steal a few minutes in the morning before work, just like I did 40 years ago on my Charlotte’s Web birthday morning.
What was your book?