Hooked On BooksI can't say that any one book started my love of reading. Like many other wordlovers have mentioned, my parents read books, my parents read to me, I read; my parents wrote, I wrote; I considered it not normal to not read, and write your own stories too.
My first fictional hero was Mike the Bulldozer, in kindergarten. The first day of first grade I walked to school myself I was late because I took a shortcut and got confused. I explained that to the teacher. Then during sharing time I got up to tell everyone a poem I'd made up while looking at the snow as I walked to school. And my teacher interrupted with, "Was that the real reason you were late?" I mention this, which might seem off the subject, just to point out that in my life the love of words never flowed all one direction.
I know I enjoyed Dr. Seuss, but the next book I remember falling in love with was Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling. I had a very lively curiosity myself. My mother used to call me, "Rikki Tikki Tavi, Go and Find Out," and I was very proud.
But the major influences on my lifelong reading habits were:
- My father's science fiction collection: Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, Blish, Murray Leinster, Chad Oliver, James Gunn, etc. His collection of Thorne Smith was also a critical influence.
- My mother's insistence that I always remember the name of the author. If I described a book I enjoyed, or quoted from it, I must remember to give the name of the author or I would go to the same Hell that Plagiarists roasted in. If I enjoyed a book, I should at least think a thanks toward the author who wrote it, cause it's bloody hard work. And if I enjoyed one book, or story or poem, I should go look for more stuff by that same author.
So I got hooked on authors. I read everything that Heinlein ever wrote up to that point by the time I was thirteen, and then had to start waiting on him. I started with The Black Stallion and devoured everything that Walter Farley ever wrote, ending up with Never Cry Wolf because he had no more horse books. So I leapt from Never Cry Wolf to Albert Payson Terhune and went through everything he ever wrote.
- A certain cussedness in our family that drove us to read more than one viewpoint on any subject. For example: when, along with every romantic teenaged female in my highschool, I read Exodus, I then went on to read Uneasy Lies the Head, the autobiography of King Hussein of Jordan.
- My mother, I came to realize much later, specially sought out and exposed me to stories from many lands and many cultures. I came to love such exposure and to seek it out myself.
- My parents did not censor what I read. What they did, instead, was talk with me about everything I read or watched, at least asking one or two questions and stimulating me to think about it, not just mindlessly consume words.
All of this leads to a certain eclecticism in my reading tastes. The Scots dialect version in Appalachian folkmusic quatrains of the adventures of the Engineer, the Scientist and the Mathematician in Faeryland has not been yet published, however. Excuse me while I go do something about this.
The authors and titles mentioned here are linked to reference sites on my other pages, My Favorite Authors & Poets or My Father's Bookshelf.
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