I’ve loved reading since I learned to read before going to kindergarten. Books have formed a huge part of my life for all the time I can remember living. If someone asks me what my favorite present I ever received was, I still have the same answer – the two boxes of girls’ books I received when I was in fifth grade. They belonged to an old woman named Helen Louise Martin, who was an acquaintance of my parents. She didn’t know anyone who would appreciate the books of her girlhood and somehow got the idea that I might. Was she right! There were all the Anne of Green Gables books and lots of other L. M. Montgomery. All the Little Colonel books, including Mary Ware the Little Colonel’s chum. (These were mostly given to Ms. Martin as they came out.) There was a full set of Louisa May Alcott. There were also some series that nobody else even heard of – Six Girls by Marion Ames Taggart, lots of books by Gene Stratton Porter, The Glenloch Girls series. All books from early in the twentieth century, a time that seemed innocent to me even when I was reading them for the first time in the 1950s. Here is an illustration from the edition of Anne of Green Gables that I have:
When I was in junior high school (as it then was) I was lucky enough to go to camp in the Colorado Rockies – at Cheley Colorado Camps. It was a beautiful place – I well remember the joy of walking out of my cabin in the morning and seeing magnificent mountains all around. But I also remember discovering that the camp had a library with lots of World War I flying ace stories! My parents got letters from camp complaining that I spent much too much time just hanging around reading.
I went to college at McGill University in Montreal. It was a great place to be! A fascinating city with lots of great stores and restaurants and the Forum, where the ice hockey was great. I went to many games of the Junior A Junior Canadiens (coached at the time by Scotty Bowman). And one of the really great things was that there were lots of books available in Canada that just weren’t around in the US – beautiful editions of Georgette Heyer, D.E. Stevenson, Josephine Tey and many others. I did an estimate at one point and determined that I was buying about a book a day.
Then I went to Yale to graduate school. And wouldn’t you know, Yale has a great library! I mean, in addition to the excellent selection of linguistics books and other serious volumes, they had a great many early motoring stories! There were days when I didn’t get out of bed before I’d read two or three books – and then it was lunch time. And time for a little work.
Well, I never have stopped reading and I’m sure I never will. The house is absolutely full of books. Here are three of my main seven paperback bookcases. They need reorganizing again, of course.
And with all these books everywhere, for the last year and a half about 90% of the reading I do is on this:
Yup, I have a Kindle. The second edition (Meg has the first). I love having lots of books with me at all times. Being able to buy a book pretty well any time I want to. Being able to decide that I’m just not in the mood for this book – and go ahead and try that one, without having to hunt. I was a little nervous that I’d miss the look and the feel of paper books, but not really. As I suspected, with me, it’s the words that count. And my Kindle is just full of words! I love it.