As a young woman, my biological mother was a bookworm. Warn, mildewed copies of 'The Bobbsey Twins', 'Happy Hollisters', 'Trixie Beldon', and 'Nancy Drew', and 'The Hardy Boys' were all her influence on the bookcases of my very early childhood. My big brother taught me how to read from the Bible when I was just 3; I was young enough when I learned that I honestly don't remember not knowing how to read!
My five brothers and sisters and I raised one another; we all have different fathers, and our mother was mentally ill, and abusive due to her illness. Books were a lovely escape from the abuse and loneliness of being a child in my home; I devoured every book I could get my hands on.
One of the battles that mother fought was with depression; she would often spend days at a time in her bed reading. As a result, there were innumerable volumes of paperback fiction available. Whenever we moved (something we did a lot) one of the first things that happened in each new house was the installation of rows and rows of standard-and-bracket shelves to hold the boxes and boxes of books. I read them all.
It was fortunate for me, I think, that she was not the type to read romance novels, but I cannot look at a copy of Stephen King's 'It', however, without the same heat of fear washing over me that had overtaken me when I read it for the first time at the tender age of 10.
I fell in love with my favorite book to this day, 'To Kill a Mockingbird', when I was just 8 years old. I was held captive by the reality that my brothers and sisters and I were not alone in the injustices of life. I was also endeared to the characters because I found it terribly romantic that Scout and Jem had a father and no mother; with my mother's boyfriends in and out of my life more often than the changing of the seasons, my deepest, secret wish as a little girl was to have a father.
My first taste of Hemingway's work was at the age of 11; it was a collection of short stories, including 'The Three Day Blow'; there was something about the way the words fit together to create descriptions so real that I felt that I was in the cabin with that boy, feeling the pressing of the storm outside, and the warmth of the fire inside.
My favorite Hemingway (can there be just one?) is 'A Moveable Feast'. Upon reading 'Feast', I knew that I wanted to be a writer, and that I would, one day, make it to Paris and sit at the cafes where Hemingway sat, and suss out a book or two there.
I am thankful to have been lucky enough to have had my eyes opened at such a young age to the happiness, sadness, fear, magic, and complete joy that the written word holds in its' pages. At the end of my life, after I have passed many tests, and overcome many things, and experienced my life, my only complaint to God will be: "I didn't finish my list of books!"
*To Kill a Mockingbird image from www.art.com; Trixie Beldon image from www.abebooks.com, Moveable Feast image from www.log24.com
Leave a comment with your favorite book, and why.
See what's on my bookshelf: Rebecca Reece's Books