Tuesday, January 6, 2009

PROMPTuesday


Our PROMPTuesday today - What was the best book you’ve ever read and why?

I 've always been a reader. My Mom says she once found me, at age two or three, sitting in my little chair with a book on my lap, gabble-gabbling the words. She was shocked - was I reading?

As it turned out, no, I had memorized the poem and was merely reciting it - but that was the beginning of my long relationship with books.

As a grade-schooler I loved being taken to the library. In my town, the library was a big two-story house made of yellow limestone, at the top of a hill rising up from the east banks of the Fox River. A modern, low-roofed wing tacked on the back of the house held the Children's Section. I would choose my books and stack them in my arms, and only go to the check out desk when the stack was too tall to carry any longer.

I loved mysteries. I loved the fantasies of Edward Eager. I loved Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Rumer Godden. If a book wasn't very good - no matter. I read it anyway, and then went on to the next. My mother says that I never did housework or chores willingly - If I wasn't outside in the woods and the grassy Illinois fields that surrounded our house, I was always in my room with my nose in a book.

The library was it for me. In those days we seldom bought books - or at least real, hardbound books. I was, however, allowed to buy mass-market childrens' series books. I saved my allowance and Christmas money to buy Nancy Drew books, and could read one from front to back in a single day.

I do remember one time a real book was bought for me. When I was about 9 I was hospitalized briefly for a minor procedure. My mother brought me a book to read while I recovered in the open children's ward I shared with three other children, purchased from the bookstore across the street from the small hospital. "Oh," I said when she presented me with it. "I've already read that." She went right back to the bookstore to choose something else.

Years later in the seventh grade I made friends with a girl who, coincidentally, had been in that children's ward that day. She remembered the spoiled little girl who had sent her mother back to the bookstore for another book.

A few years ago, I talked with a tall, slender, glamorous singer backstage, in her book-and-magazine-cluttered dressing room. We were good friends, even though the only thing we really had in common was a voracious appetite for reading. "Honey," she said, " You know you're a reader when you put off going to the toilet until you find something you can read!"

So when you ask me what's the best book I've ever read? My answer is - the one I'm reading RIGHT NOW.

11 comments:

San Diego Momma said...

Mmmm...that brought back memories. I can see you submitting that as a personal essay somewhere...

I was a lot like you with my books and my Nancy Drew and my grassy Illinois fields...this was a nice reminder.

My youngest (who is two and a half) always has her nose in a book gabble-gabbling and I hope she develops a love of reading like us!

phd in yogurtry said...

Good answer. The book you're reading now. It's really too hard to narrow favorite books down. Too many favorites.

Kate said...

I'm an avid reader too. I have a list of my top 10 favorites but if I had to narrow it down to just one pick, I'd say it's "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest J. Gaines. I only read it once, 10 years ago but it made a huge impression on me. I loved this book because of the message: "do the right thing" and do it because you have respect and honor for someone you love.

Amazing book.

blognut said...

I loved reading this - I grew up reading book after book after book, didn't really matter what, didn't really matter who wrote it. My books came from a library that appeared to spring up out of the Fox River as well. Makes me wonder how many libraries Illinois has along that river - but I'm sure it wasn't the same one.

Woman in a Window said...

I especially like the image of you in the hospital bed being not so magnanimous. One's allowed that while mending, I suppose. And that your mother quickly surried over to exchange it. My mother'd of whacked me upside the head with it, I think.

Briget said...

Ooooh, woman, you've got my undivided attention!! I began to read at a ridiculously early age, too. I found Frances Hodgson Burnett in my Grandmother's bookcase, and I still love Rumer Godden (and periodically reread her stuff). When I find an author I love, I collect everything I can find (in paperback - I've still got to feed Himself). So I have shelves of Georgette Heyer, of Mary Stewart, of Rosamonde Pilcher, of T.H. White, of E.M. Forester.

Stop...stop. I love to read, 'kay??

P.S. Right now I'm rereading "The Egg and I" by Betty MacDonald. Hilarious.

Briget said...

P.P.S. Nancy Drew - yeah. A Book A Day. All Summer. Take them all to the library on Friday and load up some more. Bliss.

Cocktail Maven said...

I completely identify with this! I think we're soul-sisters. I have always read as much as is humanly possible and with nearly maniacal relish. Very well written piece as well.

Trannyhead said...

What a tough assignment! There are so many good books out there ... but I guess my favorites are anything by Tom Robbins. LOVE Tom Robbins.

tinsenpup said...

I really need to make more time to read books. Sigh...

I never read Nancy Drew. I was all about the Trixie Beldens.

My Crafty Little Page said...

Love Nancy Drew. I just got my granddaughter the movie to tweek her interest in the books and it worked!

Here's one for you - "Littlejohn". It's worth hunting for to read....Nancy