I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a reader. I caught the reading bug from my Mom who was and still is a pretty voracious reader. I don’t remember her reading to me when I was little but I do remember her taking me to our local library. It was just a little neighborhood library in Chicago in the early 60’s. When I googled the address I discovered a beautiful library I did not recognize. The caption stated it was built-in 1991 replacing a small storefront. That small storefront was my library and I thought it was heaven.
When I was a librarian I talked to many parents who were so worried about what their teenagers might be reading that they would micro-manage every book they checked out. They should have just been happy their kids were reading. I can’t think of a time when my mother took a book away from me. Maybe I was reading tame stuff or maybe I hid it well. Hard to say, those details are lost in the mists. I do know I read a wide variety.
Early on it was the Dana Girls by Carolyn Keene. This is the same author who wrote Nancy Drew. I liked this series better because the Dana Girls first names were Jeanne and Louise, my first and middle name, so of course a girl of 12 would think that was cool.
But I went through phases. I had my gothic romance phase. I loved Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt. The covers were all the same, big old mansions on top of windswept crags overlooking the sea or the moors. There was always one window with a light in it.
Then there was my Ian Fleming stage. Bond, James Bond. Those were the “racy” books I read secretly. Sex, violence, who-hoo….but when I look back these were pretty damn tame compared to today’s standards. Just spend an evening watching or reading Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I think James Bond might even blush.
After that, science fiction came into my life. Robert Heinlein (The Puppet Masters), Arthur C. Clarke (Rendezvous with Rama), Isaac Asimov (Foundation trilogy), Frank Herbert (Dune). It was love from the first line in the first book. Once again I have to credit my Mom for getting me hooked because I think The Puppet Masters” was her recommendation.
I read a lot in the summer. That was the best! No school, no job (teenagers weren’t entrepeneurs or working their asses off at MacDonald’s back then). And we didn’t have computers either. We were just off for the summer. My sister was not a reader and it would just piss her off that I could completely ignore her, literally tune her out, and continue to read while she tried everything in her power to distract me. Even at night while I was reading in bed she would try sneaking into my room to disturb my escapism. As if I wanted to play with my kid sister. Sheesh! I remember resorting to lining the floor at the entrance to my room with rolled scotch tape. I must admit her squeals when she stepped on the tape made me smile and look up from my book…briefly.
I guess it was inevitable that I would end up working in a library. That came after teaching art to teenagers for five years and then getting a M.A. in art. My husband got a teaching job at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and I went along, walked into the local library and applied for a job and spent the next 30 years working with adult and young adult fiction, helping a ton of people find some great reading.
But why am I telling you this? Well the subtitle of this blog is ” Food, Art, Books, Birds and whatever… ” I think the book part has been neglected. I belong to two book groups and I still read a lot and it’s not Victoria Holt anymore. So once or twice a month I’m going to share books with you. It may be a list, a review, a recommendation, an author. I hope you’ll enjoy having your own personal librarian.