Just about everyone who knows me, know how much I love to read. If I had to spend a whole day anywhere, it would be either the library or Barnes & Noble. Reading was something I did a lot of as a child, because I grew up in a home where I was usually the only kid at home. I am the youngest of three children and the only girl (although I prefer to think of myself as a princess-my brothers do not). My brothers are 12 and 14 years older than me and by the time I was in kindergarten they were in college and the army.
So, The Boston Lady was a bit of a lonely child. My parents were big readers as are my brothers, so it was natural that I would become one as well. Ours was a quiet household (except when my dad would sneeze his giant sneeze) and we didn't watch a lot of television. In fact television was so downplayed in our house that it was placed in the basement, we didn't have cable and didn't get a color set until 1974 when we moved to Florida. Oh, I managed to watch plenty of television shows in spite of all those obstacles.
The princess, sorry, The Boston Lady, okay we'll comprise, The Boston Princess, had lots of good friends growing up, but when I was home, I was home by myself as far as siblings go. So, I read. A lot. I had so many good friends through those books I read. Nancy Drew was one of the first. I thought she and her friends were the coolest teens around when I was in third grade. Now she seems quaint and dated, but Nancy provided me with so many fun adventures. Harriet (Harriet the Spy) was another chum. Because of her I started keeping a journal and eating tomato sandwiches.
I went through a science fiction phase with Ray Bradbury and probably read his Illustrated Man (a collection of short stories) three or four times. Florence Nightingale and Sue Barton, Senior Nurse were my inspiration to want to study nursing (a desire that died on a tour of a hospital with a nurse friend of my mother's) and probably still fuels my passion for medical shows, both fiction and reality.
Probably the book that mesmerized me the most in my youth was Gone With the Wind. My best friend when I lived in Toronto, Jane, and I were nuts about it. I have read it and reread it probably 10 times. Can't count how many times I've seen the movie. I even still have the movie poster hanging on my wall since my husband gave it to me for our first Christmas. Jane and I would act the scenes out at home and talk endlessly about it on the phone. To this day, it still is a common bond for us 40 years later.
When I graduated from college I swore never to read anything again that I didn't like (all those textbooks-ugh). A workplace friend gave me a box of romance novels, or bodice rippers as some of us like to think of them. I went through that box like it was candy. Then I stopped reading "those books" as quick as I had started the habit. I went on a Stephen King spree that lasted several years. Favorite King book? The Stand. That book was so long and involved that I felt that I had become one of the characters in it. They made a horrible tv mini-series of it that made me want to spit. Movie adaptations of books are a whole other blog entry that we may get into in the future.
Well, I have been through countless phases in my reading career and I had to break that promise to myself about reading only things I wanted to read. I became part of a book club. I have read books I never would have selected on my own. Some I have not enjoyed, some I have liked, and some I have loved. Now, no one in my book club should be offended by my remarks, because we all know I, Princess Boston, have picked some real challenges to enjoy. I actually persuaded a group of middle aged women, who are not wildly exotic in their reading tastes, to read Running With Scissors. Not that it was not a well written book-but scandalous for our group. I will say that it did provide us with quite the book club discussion at my house and I probably haven't laughed that hard before or since. I just finished Magical Thinking by the same author at the suggestion of my daughter. I was reluctant, but it turned out to be a good read and reassuring that he, the author, had not been damaged forever by his childhood, remembered in Scissors.
Best book club pick for me? Well, there's two of them, no three. For very different reasons. First The Kite Runner. That book opened my eyes to such a different world than the one I live in. I felt such empathy for the characters in it and hatred for some. That book made a difference in my life. Second, The Thirteenth Tale. I choose this one because it is one I never would have picked on my own and I ended up just being entranced by the story and the writing style of the author. Third, My Sister's Keeper. I select this one, not because of the book, but because of the author, Jodi Picoult. I have read every book, with the exception of one (saving it), that's she's written. Her books take me on emotional journeys with every story. She is an author who does her research and it is very clear in her writing that she knows what she is talking about. So, Jodi Picoult, thanks for being one of the best friends I've had since Nancy Drew went out of my life.
Special thanks to my mother-in-law, Orlando Grandma, for suggesting I write about my love of books on my blog.