Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Book Journey

“Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.”― Lemony Snicket

Although I can't prove it, I'm pretty sure I was born with a book in my hand. My earliest childhood recollection is that of sitting next to my mother as she read to me. She wasn't allowed to hold the book or turn the pages. That privilege belonged only to moi.

The first book I read on my own was "Daddy's Birthday Cakes", a story about a little girl and her mother who each bake a birthday cake for Daddy. Soon after, "Growing Things" -- a tale of a young girl who learns to grow a sweet potato vine -- showed up on my bookcase. These stories instilled in me, at a very young age, a desire to bake and garden.

Both books were part of the Ding Dong School Book series, written by Frances Horwich and Reinald Werrenrath, Jr. and published by Rand McNally. Frances-- Miss Frances -- was headmistress at Ding Dong School, a 1950's educational TV program for preschoolers. 

Mother and Miss Frances weren't the only women who impacted my reading life. Aunt Louise loaned to me her complete Nancy Drew collection. I can still picture the books arranged sequentially on her bookcase. All in their original jackets. Beautiful, colorful, pristine jackets. I was afraid to touch them, afraid I might mar their appearance. Aunt Louise wasn't worried. "You are free to take them with you," she said. "Just make sure you read them." When I returned them to her, she raised her brows. "You've finished already?" I nodded. I had devoured them. (But only after I first removed the jackets and set them aside.)

My taste in books has always been eclectic. To me, the genre is less important than the author's ability to take me along on the journey. If the first chapter doesn't convince me to tag along. . .I abandon the trip for new adventures. John Witherspoon said, "Never read a book through merely because you have begun it." Exactly. I have a "no fault" reading plan. It may not be the author's fault -- or mine --  that I'm not into his book. Story preference is subjective. Why else would there be such a wide variety of books published?

Currently, I'm reading "The Cross Gardener" by Jason F. Wright. After 135 pages, I'm still traveling with him. A very good sign.


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