When I was nine years old, my older brother David gave me a book for Christmas. It was called Pinocchio. I threw it into the back of my closet. Books? I was nine! I wanted games or a new baseball!
When I turned ten, my brother David gave me another book for my birthday, Beautiful Joe. This, too, got tossed into the closet.
I still have those two books.
Who knew that reading and writing would become my life’s work?
I’ve always loved books, but I didn’t want books as gifts. Still, I was a regular at the El Segundo Library, getting books to broaden my mind even in third grade: ventriloquism, magic tricks, writing secret codes! Every week in the summer, I would check out the maximum number of books allowed (7), and return them the following week, taking out another maximum number. But the fiction books were early-reader books (Ann Can Fly, Little Black a Pony, Look Out for Pirates), with pictures. I had no interest in books without pictures. Too many words! But that soon changed.
It happened when I got sick the summer after my 10th birthday. My mom and dad being gone for the day, another older brother, Dennis, bought me some 7-Up and grenadine and suggested that I try reading, since it was day two of not being able to be up and around, much less go outside and play … and daytime TV pretty much sucked even back then.
So, I took down one of the two books I had on my shelf that I hadn’t yet read. Pinocchio was immediately rejected (again; never read it), but Beautiful Joe captured me. The rest is history. I proceeded to read everything I could get my hands on. I read my way through the entire juvenile fiction section at the Fort Carson Library in the next year and a half.
Of course, I read all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books (also the Bobsey Twins, but I found them too juvenile). I also read the Black Stallion series and most books about horses. My dad introduced me to Lad, a Dog and to the Todd Moran books (an adventurous young man who travels the world by steamer). My mom introduced me to the Mary Stewart books, and launched me on my love of mysteries. To this day, one of my favorite series is the Merlin series by Mary Stewart.
At some point, I started owning books. In my lifetime, I have owned several thousand books. My library is small right now, since I gave away half my library when we moved from San Diego, and more than half of the remainder when we arrived in Calgary. I have kept books that are important to me, and all of the books we bought for the kids when they were little. (Those, I will share again one day, I hope!)
My library is growing (physically and on Kindle, though I prefer “real books”), as I ravenously gobble up more books. The photos below show one room of books in our house. There are bookshelves in four more rooms.
I continue to travel where I can physically, but my brain travels the far-reaches of the world through books, exposing me to new cultures, new locales, and new people.
As Dr. Seuss wrote, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! when you read a book!