15 things about me and books
Jumping onto the bandwagon of a “very old internet meme” revived by Steve Lawson as part of a course he’s teaching…
- I learned to read when I was 3, and the apocryphal tale is that my Aunt Karen was tired of reading me the Sunday funnies, so said, flippantly, “You read them to me, instead.” And I did. Shortly thereafter I started on my first book obsession was the Sweet PIckles series, which my mother very rapidly got tired of. I remember this specifically because she got tired of it, and was overjoyed to be able to tell me to go read them myself.
- My dad read me the Just So Stories every night before bed, for some amount of time lost in the mists of memory. I loved the one about the father and daughter making up the alphabet the most. (Why this never occurred to me when I was having my love affair with linguistics, I do not know.)
- My first conscious library book memory was of the school librarian sometime between grades K-2 gently suggesting I was checking out too many challenging books at once, and having my teacher say, “Jenica’s fine. Give her whatever she wants.” Because… I was a Reader. That was the Trixie Belden era.
- In 2nd grade we all had reading groups, named for colors, grouped by ability so that we could learn collaboratively and have more specialized direction from the teacher. I was in my own reading group. All alone. It made me unaccountably sad, because while I thought the books everyone else was reading were boring, I wanted to be in a group, too.
- Except I didn’t. I was never happier than when I was alone with a book. I can tune out the world if I’m reading a good story, and my mom can attest to how many times I would say “Okay” or “Uh-huh” to a request, while reading, and then never do the thing I’d been asked to do, simply because I didn’t remember being asked. And a group of women whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years but recently saw at a baby shower all commented on the fact that I was usually off reading by myself as a kid… pretty telling that their memory of me is of a quiet kid alone with a book.
- I have owned more books than I can count or remember, in part because my aunt Elizabeth is a lbirarian, and when her public library would weed their children’s collections, she would send me discarded library books. I read a lot of books that I would never have seen otherwise, including lovely old stories that I wish I remembered the names of. Some of the books I remember best were about a young boy in ancient Egypt, a wagon train going to the American West planting apples, and some charming stories set in post-war Britain.
- When I was a pre-teen, my Aunt Pam gave me an Agatha Christie to read while I was visiting her one day. I’ve read most of the Christie novels, and I am particularly inclined to the Miss Marple stories, though I do like the ones that feature neither Poirot nor Marple an awful lot. I still love a good mystery novel.
- When I was 12 or 13, my dad gave me my first science fiction novel — Killashandra by Anne McCaffrey — which led me straight to the Dragonriders of Pern, which was my next big book obsession. I’ve read everything McCaffrey wrote from the beginning to about the late 90’s, and large chunks of the solo writing done by her collaborating authors. This is how I discovered Elizabeth Moon, who is one of my most favorite authors. Paksenarrion and Heris Serrano are two of my most loved fictional characters.
- I have never destroyed a book…. except for the ones that have been accidentally dropped in bathtubs, swimming pools, or lakes.
- I so love to read that I once sat on a rock in my lake in the Adirondacks, leaning against the dock, body in the water, so that I could keep reading on a hot, hot day — too hot to sit on the dock or on the porch. But I was unwilling to put my book down to go swimming.
- I forced myself to stop haunting used book sales when I realized, upon moving to New York, that my moving van was equal parts boxes of books and boxes of everything else. Through a great weeding effort I now have 90% books I’ve already read and am keeping for the re-read value and/or because I intend to have them to loan to others, and 10% books waiting to be read.
- I no longer read much “serious” fiction. Books are now pure joy for me, and so I restrict myself to the things that are recreationally entertaining. If you want to talk about literary fiction, go elsewhere… but if you want to talk urban fantasy, contemporary romance, space opera, or epic fantasy, I’m your girl.
- I read ebooks on my iPhone, and I want a Kindle. But I don’t expect to give up my print books any time soon. I switched to mp3 files with glee, and haven’t looked at my CDs in literally years, but I feel differently about books. I want both formats.
- I give books to children on holidays. The world can absolutely have enough plastic children’s toys, but it can never have too many books.
- The day I realized that collection development librarians get to buy books with other people’s money and get paid to do it was a good, good day.