Sunday, July 24, 2005


Next to sex, my favorite activity is reading. My parents read to my regularly as a child, and I began to read at age four, probably by osmosis. At least, I don't remember actually being taught to read. At four, I was reading my own Dr Seuss books...I now can read it in a box, I now can read it with a fox. Let me read it on a train, let me read it in the rain...

At that time, The Flintstones was my favorite TV show, and I can remember checking the TV section in the newspaper to see what time it came on. I had to lay the paper on the kitchen table, as I was too little to sit in a chair and hold all of it up.

By the time I started first grade, I was already reading Hardy Boy mysteries. For every B and A I got on my report card, my parents would buy me a new book. For most meals, I brought a book with me to the table. My siblings had the 1959 version of the Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia and I remember going through these volumes one by one, randomly reading articles that interested me.

There were also several older books in the house: a book of bedtime stories from 1918 that had several Art Nouveau illustrations and a school reader from 1939, with corresponding Art Deco ones.

As an adult, I have a fairly respectable vocabulary, which I attribute directly to my reading habits. I can remember when encountering an unfamiliar word as a child, I usually could figure out the meaning from context. I didn't always figure out the proper pronunciation that way, though! For the longest time, I thought the pronunciation of the word "misled", was "mizzled"!

My love of writing came fairly early on as well, no doubt triggered by all the reading I'd done. As with reading, my ability to write, came seemingly by osmosis -- I'd absorbed writing techniques by the sheer volume of reading matter I'd consumed. I can remember being about ten years old and writing my own little newspaper, which was a lot of fun.

As an adult, I rarely can go into the library or a bookstore without helping other people find books. Just last week, I was in the used bookstore looking for some light reading when I heard a woman ask the clerk if he knew of any novels that took place in our state. The clerk didn't, but I jumped in and gave her several suggestions. The woman was also searching for books for her husband, mentioning some authors he liked. I was able to recommend a similar author and she ended up leaving with an armload of books, after telling me that I ought to do this for a living. That would be nice, if such jobs did not insist upon paying the minimum wage.

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