This week the topic is Books. Other than the two books that I have written about previously, reading books was not a high priority activity in my childhood. Although my mother gave me her poetry book to read while I washed the dishes, she believed that reading was an activity that should be done only after all other chores were done. In her world, there were always chores to be done. My grandmother appeared to have the same view of reading, although she did have her elocution book and a few beloved books in her glass-fronted book case.
The only two books that I really remember as I was growing up were dismal failures. I carried around Ernie Pyle's Brave Men for years, but I don't think I ever finished it. The strange thing is that my mother gave the book to me to read, which was probably beyond the reading level of a 9 or 10 year old, but I don't think she ever finished it either. The other was a historical novel -- something about a Chateau. This book sticks in my mind as I got some pithy remarks about the book report from a teacher. I also have an aversion to Libraries, in great part, due to some very large fines for overdue books -- I don't remember reading the books, but I do remember the fines.
As an adult, I evolved into a rather eclectic reader, history, memoirs, some light science such as books on psychology, sociology, and archeology --- not so much on the physical sciences, except for astronomy and sometimes light mathematics. I also have a penchant for spy novels -- but can't abide most of the series or sequel stuff. Not too fond of sci-fi and fantasy. Also once I commence reading, I can't seem to put a book down until it's finished -- which has caused some problems over late or non existent dinners and the like.
I believe my, or our (my husband and I) greatest gift in the books and reading realm was that we provided a rather large array of books for our children -- and I read to them every nite until they were reading on their own. The last decade or so, I have been winnowing out my book collection --- the hardest ones to give the old "heave-ho" were the encyclopedia sets that I had accumulated. We bought the Americana when our eldest was born, along with it's accompanying set of Children's Library and a smaller natural science set. We hauled those encyclopedias throughout Oregon and Washington for over twenty years. We were the local "lending library" where ever we lived, as all of our children's friends would come to our house to do their reports -- at least during their elementary and middle school years. I tried to sell those books, donate them to schools, Goodwill, Salvation Army, just give them away, and finally my heart broke when I hauled them off to the dump. How could someone not want a thirty year old set of encyclopedias that had just a few cookie smudges here and there, and maybe a dribble of milk or juice, but very few pencil marks, and those only from "visiting scholars"--- we even had at least ten volumes of the "Annual Updates." I am still holding on to the Children's Library. From those twelve volumes, I read poems and stories, made crafts, costumes, toys and science projects for my younger brothers, children, and grandchildren -- too many memories -- and there might be great grandchildren some day ... .
And thus my checkered past in the book department -- don't remember reading much, racked up book fines, and cried over an old set of encyclopedias when finally I pushed them out of the back of the station wagon and into the landfill.
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© Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications..