My dad taught me to read with Berenstain Bear books. I had a huge stack of them, but unfortunately my mother gave them to my cousins when they were young. I suppose it’s best for children to have children’s books, but I am possessive of my things, particularly my books. I made a catalogue of all the books in my library and I think it’s around 800, but that includes my husband’s as well. That does include some of my childhood favourites, but alas, many are gone.
I read a lot in elementary and high school. We didn’t have the internet, I didn’t watch much TV, and though I remember hours spent on the Super Nintendo books were my passion. I read The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) because my friends were reading it, and I remember being embarrassed because I thought it was dull. Good times. We used to go shopping as a family a lot, because there wasn’t a lot to do where we lived, and when the parents were buying a treat I choose a book.
I kicked the habit of writing my name in every book I buy, but it still makes me smile when I open a book and see it there. Last weekend I bought a book at a charity sale specifically because it had writing on the inside cover. There was a name, which I can’t recall at the moment (and it’s all the way upstairs) and then it said “Love Nana, in 1966.” I can’t believe anyone would get rid of something so precious, but don’t worry Nana – I will love the book. It’s an old copy of The Wind in the Willows, which I definitely should have read by now.
A few years back I went on a classics-reading kick. My definition of “classics” may have been loose, but I think I did all right. I read Gormenghast (Mervyn Peake), A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess), Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov), The Man in the Iron Mask (Alexandre Dumas), and probably others. I still pick up a book now and again for the sake of reading a “classic” but fantasy and sci-fi have long been my favourites. I like vast worlds filled with countless hours of escape, and compelling characters with interesting problems.
Several months I began a hunt for gay and lesbian theme sci-fi and fantasy. It was disappointing at first because I kept running into the smut books, but I’ve found a few gems. The Fire’s Stone by Tanya Huff has become and will remain one of my favourite books of all time. Swordspoint and subsequent books in that universe by Ellen Kushner were very compelling. The search led me to Robin Hobb, who is of course amazing.
The drawback of this mission is that I have a pile of about sixty books to read. I tried to stick with the list, but when I go to these charity sales I go a little bit crazy. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but at $2.00 with proceeds going to the children’s hospital, what have I got to lose? It’s even more fun when my brother comes along and picks out the silliest-sounding ones. Sometimes they end up being charming, like Little Fuzzy (H. Beam Piper).
Have you ever read a book because you thought you should (not necessarily because someone told you to, but perhaps that as well)? Do you have a preferred genre? Is there a genre that constantly disappoints you, but that you’d really like to love?
I know people who rarely, if ever, pick up a book. I don’t understand, and I don’t want to.