As a kid, I read to escape a less than ideal reality. I read behind sofas, in closets with a flashlight, under the covers with flashlight, in tents at the summer camps to which I was sent. I wasn't choosy as I am now. I read everything--even the otherwise forbidden comic books on rainy days at camp. I was amused and thrilled, too, when I discovered how much Marvel had ripped off from Greek mythology and from the thousand page book called Fairy Tales of All Lands which I had plowed my way through during my bout with the German Measles. Later, my parents assured me that I had "ruined my eyes" by doing so--along with all that "reading in the dark"--although, the fact was my father couldn't see his hand in front of his face without his glasses. Heredity probably had more to do with my nearsightedness.
I read in corners of bars, out of the way of the staff and the feet of patrons, in the
West Indies, where
my mother went for her health during the winter. I fished books out of
wastebaskets in the sitting room of the Hotel St.
Lawrence, which has probably fallen into the sea by now, or been replaced by a
mega-story Sheraton. That was how I found The Tales of Hoffmann, The
Daughter of Time, and many books by Georgette Heyer, mother of the
fan fic Jane Austen, and Jean Plaidy, who wrote many, many historicals, which
even at thirteen I found rather dull, but read because they were historical. There were also books which scared
me to death, like Something of Value, full of race hatred, murder
and torture. (Don’t think ETA Hoffmann didn’t scare me, too. I was as
frightened by the idea of a young woman who would die if she sang, as I was by the real-life Mau-Mau.)
We had one used book store in my small home town with a grumpy old proprietor and his even grumpier fat old gray cat, who mauled me every time I tried to pet him. Despite the efforts of both owner and his cat to discourage me, I haunted the place, poking through the shelves, sitting on the bare boards and reading. I found Victorian and Edwardian novels. Their slow pace, elegant descriptive paragraphs and carefully crafted world creation drew me down like quick sand.
My parents both brought their childhood libraries with them, and I read Tom Swift and An Indian Boyhood by Charles Eastman which belonged to my father. The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley and Kidnapped and all those Twin books (Colonial Twins, Scotch Twins, Cave Twins ad infinitum) which had belonged to my mother.
I still read in the bathtub. Did you know you can take an e-reader into the tub if you plastic bag and seal it? A long time ago, I had a Rocket with a back light, so I've continued the practice of reading while others sleep. I like to read at night, which I do more and more as I grow older. It's a perfect time, quiet, and with no interruptions except for the cats, who can still drop their fannies unerringly upon the one paragraph I'm trying to get through. Still, a cat in lap, a cup of chamomile tea and a good book in hand are just about perfection.
In the '90's, with my sweet Hammie
Thanks so much, Ginger, for hosting me on Dishin' It Out, and, from my Possum Tracks blog, on your Sunday Snippets & Stuff blog. Maybe we'll all work together again, us BWL writers. In the meantime:
Onward, Into the Fog!