I’ve been doing more of that blog navel-gazing that we all do from time to time. I decided to examine the archives for my first couple of months and see what I came up with. I was looking for purpose and intent as well as content, and I ended up reminding myself that this is a blog about my reading experiences. It is, essentially, a personal blog that sometimes contains reviews and interviews, but has my own reactions to books at its core.
This weekend’s wondering: What is your personal history as a reader?
This was a freewrite that we had in my YA Lit class this past Monday. The professor asked us to write about our reading history for ten minutes, including earliest memories and influences. (I was extraordinarily prepared to write about this, as I’d spent the whole weekend thinking and chatting on Facebook with folks about the defining literature of their own adolescence.)
Here’s mine, completely unedited except to protect names of folks I don’t communicate with anymore or places that might rather not be mentioned.
My earliest memories of reading have very little to do with actual reading and it’s hard to separate my memories from anecdotes my mother told me. My first book was Stop, Go, Word Bird! And I read it when I was three. Around that time I also tried to exit the library through an emergency exit door, which colors all of my memories of the Melbourne public library.
I don’t remember learning to read – I was so small that almost all of my memories from that time have faded. My mother was the biggest influence on my reading – she would read with and to me and once I became an independent reader she would recommend books for me. I remember when I was in second grade or fourth grade (sometime in Tallahassee) and she was reading the Xanth books and I wanted to read them too and she said I was too young (which now I’m all, what?) but then when I was in middle school I was allowed to read them.
In middle school and high school, I read science fiction and fantasy almost exclusively, focusing primarily on the work of Piers Anthony. I can trace my development as a young adult through his books: I started with Xanth (Ogre, Ogre) and then moved on to the Incarnations of Immortality. Then I read the Mode series, which for some reason is inextricably linked in my mind with adolescence. (Probably because I read it in 8th grade which was a hard year and because Colene was 14, much younger than the main characters in Xanth or Incarnations.) I kept up a correspondence with Piers which was exciting and fueled my desire to read his books more. (I remember reading and re-reading my one copy of Hi Piers over and over again. Piers went with me on a lot of field trips, now that I think about it.)
I was in the middle of an Incarnations re-read when I met Will, and he encouraged me to pick up the Apprentice Adept series which I did – I read those during the spring of my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. I think after that I read the Bio of a Space Tyrant series.
Letters to Jenny (like Alina said) falls in there somewhere, as does Tarot, but I can’t place either of them. Tarot is maybe my junior year of high school (I bought it the summer I met Will but I think I checked it out from the library before that) and Letters to Jenny much earlier.
Libraries played a big role in my reading history but a quiet one. I never asked for help selecting books - I would browse a lot and picked up the vampire books by Caroline B. Cooney and I volunteered at the library which was probably one of the happiest summers of my life. I loved the library and it was a source for much more than books – we checked out the same music and videos over and over again (I’m not sure why the French La Cage was such a favorite, but it was).
I loved school librarians – Mrs. F and Mrs. L especially (although I didn’t really know the librarians at my high school). I felt very at home and grown up at the library. I still have and use that 20 year old library card.
So what about you? In the comments or a post at your own blog, tell us your personal reading history.