You are what you read

Last week I attended “Literary Orange, a fabulous event presented by the Orange County Public Libraries and almost fifty writers speaking. I am still amazed at their diverse personalities, insightful comments, and varied books. I added so many books to my “must read NOW” list that I may never get anything done because I am reading.

One interesting comment that came up repeatedly was that these writers all started out as readers, and they continue to be readers to this day. They read fiction and non-fiction; they read to see what the competition is writing; they read to get ideas; they read to help friends; they read to get background for their own books. THEY READ.

little womenThey shared stories of being taken to the public library as children. They told of reading “adult” books when they had read all the children’s books. They mentioned “Little Women” numerous times. They described the love of syntax and rhythm in books. They learned to imagine the possibilities by reading. They developed a lifelong love of telling stories by reading the stories of others.

 

raymond libraryThat motivated me to share my reading stories. My father was and still is a READER. My childhood memories include trips to the local library in our small Ohio town. In fact, I still have my library card from the Raymond library and check out e-books from my home in California.

I remember my parents reading to me, even after I could read myself. My mother read the printed page with feeling and expression, but my father created something unexpected, a story about the pictures, almost the printed-page story, but yet different, unexpected, surprising. Even those “safe” Little Golden Books were transformed into mysteries as he read them. I think I love to read mysteries because he created the unexpected when he read to me. He still does that with his grandchildren. I laugh when I hear him reading and one of the kids says, “That’s not what is in the book.” He replies that it might be.

Most of you are writers and probably readers, so now it is your turn to share. What were your early experiences with books? What books do you read now? Why do you read them?

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Author: 3 no 7

"3 no 7" presents Katie and Barbara who write about the books they love and the books they don't.

22 thoughts on “You are what you read”

  1. My parents are/were both voracious readers. My mother still is. I was the kid who ordered twenty books from the Scholastic newsletter. Kids would laugh at the tall pile on my desk when they were delivered. I LIVED for those deliveries. In between, I’d walk to the library by myself and take out more books.

    I’m still a voracious reader. I cycle through all kinds of hobbies, but reading is my one constant. I have a small scar on my forehead from where I walked into a tree while I was reading while walking in NYC one night. It’s a badge of honor.

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      1. Same. We didn’t have a lot of money (I’m the 7th of 8 kids) and made lots of trips to the library so it was hard for my parents to justify. Those scholastic books were cheap, though, god bless them, because the siren song of that newsprint was almost too much for me to bear.

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  2. I’d sound a lot like the people at your event. I went to the library often, read way above my age-level. My dad gave me MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS and that was it.

    These days I read a lot: biographies, mostly mysteries of some kind (it’s what I like and I need to see what other people are doing), but really anything according to my mood. I’m in the market for something lighter right now. Maybe Becky’s new one. 🙂

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    1. I re-read “Murder on the Orient Express” before I saw the recent movie remake. I still like the book better! The last time I needed a “brain cleanse” after reading something intense I read one of Dianne Vallere’s books.there is nothing like clothes and shoes to make murder enjoyable. The best laugh-out-loud non-mystery book( although it is a little mysterious) I have read lately is “Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple. I listened to it as an audio book on my morning “run” and I really was laughing out loud, and people I met were looking at me as they crossed the street to get away — which was an OK thing since they usually had dogs.

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  3. Being the youngest in my family, I had to battle for my books. My parents weren’t avid fiction readers, but they did subscribe to a book club, and I read all of them. I read everything my school library offered, and everything I could find of my older siblings.

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    1. I still remember the Reader’s Digest “condensed” books that came every month with 4 or 5 books all bound in one volume. I think my dad still has some in his basement. My favorite was a 60s cold war story about two spies, (Smith and Jones) who defected, thinking they were going to be big heroes in their new country and were surprised when everyone forgot about them. It had a great twist ending. I loved that story and I’ll bet my dad still has that book. I’ll have to look for it the next time I visit.

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  4. I had totally forgotten about Reader’s Digest! When we visited my grandparents, they’d have a stack of them in a book case next to an comfy chair by the fireplace. While people were bustling around doing I-don’t-know-what, I was curled up in the chair reading Reader’s Digest. I loved the Scholastic delivery day too. My mom would only let me order 1-2 books at a time. I usually ordered history. I was fascinated with Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. By the time I got to high school history, I knew more than was being taught on the subject, which oddly didn’t warm my teacher to me. Maybe I shouldn’t have corrected him in class?

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  5. My dad tells the story of when he was in high school, he’d stop by the public library and check out the limit of 5 books. He’d read one walking home, the rest at home, then the last one walking to school the next day.

    I, too, grew up reading. Books and mags all over the house. I distinctly remember the day I ventured upstairs away from the children’s section. I picked out my 5 books and knew with each step toward the desk that I was going to be caught and punished. I was so pleased with myself that the librarian didn’t even care what I checked out! Dad took us to the library every saturday. I was partial to Nancy Drew, Judy Blume, and books about poltergeists (which scared the bejeebers out of me). I wish I could read more, but these old eyes kinda quit working around 5pm. And audiobooks send me straight to snoozeland. Luckily I have a job where reading novels is a job requirement so I’ve learned not to feel guilty when I’m reading mid-day!

    My kids learned to write their names in cursive just so they could get their own library cards before they even started k-gar. When they were younger, we’d get 10 books every time. (Mainly so I knew how many we were looking for when it was time to return them.) When they were older, I’d find them up in the tree, or in a blanket fort, or sprawled on the carpet having a “reading club.”

    Yep. We’re readers.

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  6. I’m very fortunate that both my parents are/were readers, and my mom is an English teacher. The Scholastic book order was my favorite part of each month because I was able to order LOTS of books. Oh, and the book fair! I loved it so much that when I became a volunteer at my daughter’s school, the first thing I volunteered for was the book fair. Our school didn’t have a library until I was in sixth grade, so we used to walk to the town library (gasp! on the side of the road with no sidewalks!). It was an adventure, we’d get exercise, and oh yeah – more books. As an only child who didn’t live in a neighborhood, I devoured books (still do). Our town library is. . .sad, which is unfortunate, and the ease of the Kindle and Nook apps makes it too tempting to skip the library as an adult. Our daughter’s school library is lovely; however, she doesn’t spend as much time there as I did, thanks to technology. We do encourage her to read more physical books, though. Great post! THanks for bringing some lovely memories.

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  7. My parents weren’t really readers when I was younger, so I taught myself to read. I devoured everything at the school library and spent all my spare change on those Scholastic book orders. I was of the age where The Baby-Sitters Club and Goosebumps were everything! I was also into The Boxcar Children and Encyclopedia Brown.

    My mom started working at Walden Books (remember those?) when I was 10 and she started reading again since employees could use the store as a library. We both became hooked on Mary Higgins Clark books, one of the few things we have in common. Now she works at the library and is a fan of culinary cozies. I try to read what she reads so we have something to talk about.

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  8. I remember lying on a sofa reading either a mystery or a paranormal book in the summer while friends were out playing kickball (or whatever… I was reading).

    I devoured Nancy Drew… then via my mom, Agatha Christie, Phyllis Whitney, and more.

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