My introduction to books was not innocent—not in the least. I was three and curious. Specifically, I wanted to know where babies came from. My father, not the most comfortable of people, harrumphed, cleared his throat, and told me that he was too busy.
I resolved to get the needed information on my own. My uncle, who was in the Army, had stored his medical books in our attic. I had looked at them and knew those pictures contained the kernels of truth; but the words: what might those words tell me? All I had to do was learn to read. Sufficiently motivated, I easily mastered the task.
The joke, however, was on me. Those wonderful books filled with information were in Latin. Oh, well, at least I had opened the door to new and wonderful worlds.
Finding books worth reading was not easy. I really didn’t care about Dick, Jane, or even Spot. Quickly, I was reading the few adult books our home offered. It was a limited and strange assortment, mostly chosen to fill the bookshelf Dad had found on the street and brought home. Still, they were books and I devoured them. One of the unintended consequences came to light when at five I began attending Sunday school. Being Jewish, I was not expected to know the legends of all the national saints of the European countries, but I did. I particularly loved the saints who had killed dragons. To be honest, the rabbi reminded me a bit of a dragon, and I did have fantasies of slashing him with my great sword. But that is a different story.
Somebody suggested the library. What a wonderful place. One small problem, those darn Dick and Jane quality books. I was five and had read most of the Hardy Boys and had heard of books by people named Twain, Stevenson, Dickens, and London. When would I get to read them?
“Too young. Too young.” The refrain hurt my pride and interfered with my favorite leisure pursuit. Eventually, I talked my way into a grownup card. I was off and running—or at least reading. Unfortunately, I had no idea which books were worth reading and which not. Worse, there was no one to help me. Perhaps one of my English teachers might have helped, but I had been duly warned that if word got out, my precious card would be taken away. So I read a motley array of books; none of which, by the way, providing the information I had originally sought.
Some of those books were great and some were trash. At the time I had my own list of which were which. Now, of course, I have the lists of “great books” and “classics” to tell me what I am supposed to think of them—not that I give a fig about such lists.
What I do care about—what I cared about then and still do—was finding books that did more than entertain me. Keeping a kid occupied is easy. I wanted books that made me think and feel, books that made me expand, made me aware, made me alive. Because I found them—too often buried in the trash, but still there, my love affair with books went on and grew. It still burns today. I try to read at least one book a week as well as lots of other stuff. On a vacation, I can push that number up to one per day. Such is true happiness.
I suppose books have made other members of The Write Room Blog happy as well. For some, perhaps the world of books gave them a sense of safety in a difficult and confusing world. Maybe others were looking for rules and standards, models by which to live their lives. For whatever reason, I guess we all do love books; why else would we write so many of them? And, because we know that visitors to our blog also love books—Why else come here? —we take pleasure in giving some of our books away. Please join us in this celebration of words and writing and enter The Write Room Blog giveaway. May the book you read today give you pleasure for years to come.
As one of the founders of The Write Room Blog, Ken Weene takes great pride in the ongoing success of this group and thanks you for visiting today.