Sunday, January 09, 2011

Life-long friends

I was fortunate to grow up reading. Our house didn't have the books-in-every-room decor that my husband suffers, but we owned books and my mother read to me. She introduced me to the library when I was a small child and it and the book mobile became two of my favorite places. I wasn't a particularly popular child, so I spent a lot of time alone, most of it with my face buried in a book. I was reading early enough that there was a run-in with my first grade teacher when she insisted--in front of the class--that I could not possibly have read Charlotte's Web the previous summer.  But I had. And quite a few more, too.

I devoured the Little House books for the first time that year, among others. Over the next few years I fell in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, the already-yellowing volumes of  The Bobbsey Twins series that had been my mother's, and my grandmother's contribution, Jean Stratton Porter's Limberlost. I met Katie John, Luvvy and the Girls,Trixie,Pollyanna, Rebecca, the Peppers, and the Melendys. I worked my way through the Nancy Drew mysteries that had belonged to my mom and her sisters, and then moved on to Agatha Christie. After I exhausted Dame Agatha I discovered Dorothy Sayers. About this same time--when I was about 12--I found Taylor Caldwell, Anya Seton, and Victoria Holt. I quickly ran through their writings.

In the school library I found less salutary companions. Judy Blume, Paul Zindel, Go Ask Alice and more gems were the contributions of the library of my Illinois middle school, where I spent a great deal of time during my two study halls every day. Fortunately, they didn't keep me from finding better literature at the public library and, occasionally at the bookstore. And, to encourage the moms whose daughters are currently devouring garbage, they didn't do permanent damage.

I still go back to my childhood favorites from time to time. I just re-read the Little House books for at least the 25th time. A Little Princess is revisited every couple of years. It hasn't been all that long since I spent time with Luvvy and the Melendys. Anya Seton's Katharine is an almost annual read, as is the big hit of my senior year, ...And Ladies of the Club. I introduced all of these friends to my daughter, and we share a satisfying love of many of them. In return, she gave me Anne of Green Gables and all things Austen.

Fine companions, indeed.


Anonymous said...

Ahh. . .we have a number of mutual friends. :) My daughter is beginning to be introduced to them too--fun times.

Mom said...

Jane, I loved reading this - brings back wonderful memories.

Lauren said...

I love that you call your books friends. Very lovely.

Ollie loves the Little House books. We have Little House in the Big Woods on CD and he could listen to that for hours. Oh wait. He does. Good stuff indeed.

Now, how about you blog about some good reading material for boys. Please. Please?

Jane said...

I'll do that. I'll enlist my boys to help me. :)

Melody said...

-sniff- My daughter has not inherited the reading-for-pleasure gene. She's a good reader, and an expressive reader when she reads aloud. She just doesn't enjoy it.

Lauren said...

Yay, Jane (and boys)! Thank you, thank you!

organistsandra said...

This is a very curious thing to me. I wasn't a reader, and was always amazed by my cousin Cynthia who read not just books, but series of books. I remember reading Bobbsey Twins and loving it, and I read a couple of Nancy Drew mysteries, and I tried several times to read the series of books that came with the Collier's Encyclopedia, but they were hard and the only one I could get interested in was the one with nursery rhymes and poems.

Then there was school, and I spent all my time rereading the textbooks to make sure I wouldn't miss a test question.

I read lots of books now, but it still feels like a big accomplishment to read a whole book. It requires so much sitting. I think my children all read more than me, and I'm glad they take after their dad in this!