I am taking Liza up on her 15 things about books meme. So, here goes:
1. When I was in first grade I began a life-long love/hate affair with the library because first graders were only allowed to check out books on the E shelf. The books on the E shelf were dumb – little more than picture books – books that had no need to be checked out from the library because I could finish them while standing in line waiting to check them out. I snuck a couple of books out and in, but worried about being banned from the library for life if caught, so I stopped stealing. After the school librarian found me sneaking into the library during recess to hide in a back corner with a chapter book not from the E shelf (because I figured that if I wasn’t allowed to check the book out then I probably wasn’t allowed even to read it) she granted special permission to me to check out any book I wanted.
2. The next memorable installment of the love/hate affair continues when I am 11. We rarely went to the public library because with 2 parents who worked all the time, and living out in the suburbs where the nearest library was too far away to walk, there just wasn’t time. That didn’t bother me overly, my parents had a large library of their own and even though they were mostly adult books (meaning books for adults – hard core science fiction, some romance novels, non-fiction, NOT adult books meaning porn) that I wasn’t supposed to read, I had no problem sneaking books into my room and reading them despite the prohibition. On this memorable event, someone (I can’t remember if it was my parents or some other adult) took me the county library and I checked out a bunch of books including The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley as well as some of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders’ books and a couple of other books I cannot now remember. I decide that it is unbelievably cruel to taunt someone with books they cannot keep. I cannot bear to part with these books and so “forget” to take them back. I don’t go back to the library for over a decade.
3. When I am 17 (senior in High School) my parents receive a letter from a lawyer. The County Library is suing them for the stolen books. The amount the library is suing for amounts to over $300 (they had listed each paperback as being worth over $20). This is a huge amount of money to my family. The library is willing to drop the suit and forgive the fees if we simply return the books. My parents call me at work (I make $4.25/hr and work 15 hours a week, I am currently working on trying to pay off my letter jacket and class ring as well as save up for a car, at this time my family is nearly homeless because my parents have sunk all their money (not much to start with) into building a new house after having sold the one I grew up in. We alternate between living with my Aunt and living in a camping trailer on the building lot. Everyone is short on sleep and patience and sanity) and tell me that not only has my little problem ruined their credit but if I don’t find those books (no mean feat since our whole house and the majority of my library is packed in boxes in a storage unit) and they have to pay the fees then bad, bad, bad things will happen to OUR WHOLE FAMILY and it will all be MY FAULT and I will have to LIVE WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE FOREVER. I manage to find the books.
4. I reread my favorite books obsessively. They’re like cozy clothes that one puts on and slouches around in for comfort.
5. My parents used to try to keep me in line by threatening to ground me to my room and take all my books away. After the first time they threatened me with this I took a selection of my favorite books and hid them in various nooks and crannies in my room so I could never be deprived of them.
6. The first book I stayed up all night to read was Harriet the Spy . I started it just before bedtime. I remember thinking how odd 3 AM felt and how tired I was but how I couldn’t possibly stop reading. I finished the book and fell asleep a little after 5 am. And yes, I used a flashlight under the covers. At least I did until it died, but by then my parents had gone to bed and I could safely turn the bedroom light on. I was 7.
7. I read very, very fast. I have been known to read a book while someone else is reading it by reading it in the breaks between their own reading sessions and making sure I leave it exactly where I found it with exactly the right page marked.
8. Giving away a book is one of the hardest things for me to do. Kristin reads a book and passes it on. I read a book and put it in my library. I may lend it out, but I miss it and I’ll track it down if it doesn’t get returned soon enough (ironic, huh?). The first few years Kristin and I were together we lived in a very tiny condo that didn’t have room for all my books. Every few months she would get a certain look in her eye and insist that “we” go through “our” books and weed them out. Each session was excruciatingly painful for me and would leave me in a bad mood for days – even though the books that were weeded were always books I hadn’t liked in the first place and wouldn’t recommend in the second.
9. One of the worst things that another kid ever did to me was when the neighborhood bully asked to look at my copy of The B.F.G by Roald Dahl and then threw it over a 10 foot chainlink fence topped with barbed wire. No matter how hard I tried I could not get over that fence. And believe me, I tried. I plan on buying this book for Julia.
10. The book I miss the most – I lent it to a former friend and it was never returned, that’s why that person is a former friend – is Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her. I keep meaning to buy a new copy, and one day I will, but I had written such notes all through the margins that it was almost like a journal and those notes can never be replaced.
11. When I was in the 6th grade I read a book called DarkAngel. I could never remember the author but that book haunted me. Finally, two years ago, I looked the book up and got the author’s name and it turned out the book was in my University Library along with the final two books in the trilogy. I re-read it and it was every bit as good as I remembered. Go read it yourselves and see. If you follow the link, don’t pay attention to the “official” description, scroll down to the reader’s reviews to get a hint of the magnificence of this book (and, indeed, the whole trilogy).
12. Because I was a huge fan of adult fantasy and science fiction, my mother’s friend gave me a beautiful copy of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy when I was 12. I kept trying to get into the damn thing, but never could get past the first 20 pages. Now I can’t find it, I think it’s in a box of my childhood books still in storage at my parents’ house. When I get it back, I’ll give it another try (since I loved the movies so much).
13. When I was 20 I was browsing through a paperback exchange and came across a trashy romance novel where the heroine’s name was Trista. Since I have a thing about my name in print that comes from always wanting and never managing to find personalized things in gift shops when I was a kid I bought the book. It was the worst book I have ever read. It was one of those romances where the heroine is raped repeatedly and we’re supposed to find it sexy. It triggered all sorts of PTSD for me regarding my own sexual abuse since I kept reading all these horrible things that were happening to “Trista” (e.g. after the heroine is raped for the second time and she tries to stand up to her attacker she is denounced as a seductress and cast out of her community and ends up in a Nevada silver town as a Saloon Whore where the hero finds her and rehabilitates her and teaches her to love again) I couldn’t finish the book. My pseudo girlfriend (if I had been “out” she would have been my girlfriend) suggested that we burn the book. We did and danced around the flames.
14. I have only managed to read 3 books (not picture books) since Julia was born. And one of the books in the book count is really 2 halves of books (I have read 2 full books and half of two others). I dream of being able to read again.
15. My ideal job would be one in which I was paid to read. Does anyone know how I can get a job like that?
16. I let my aunt know I was gay by lending her Deaths of Jocastaby JM Redmann. She let me know she understood what I was telling her by giving me an entire stack of books by gay and lesbian writers.