Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reading, Always Reading

Questions sent from Katia Novet Saint Lot:

1. Do you remember the first book you ever read on your own?

It was Treasure Island, a beautiful, illustrated, slipcased edition, and I read it on my first flight from Alaska to New York City when I was six. It was an unforgettable experience, because I was allowed to read until I fell asleep--no "lights-out" on the plane!

2. Do you remember how you felt? If not, maybe you remember how you felt seeing a child read for the first time?

Nothing has ever been so joyful as entering that world for the first time and gulping it down as quickly as I could. I was a greedy reader from the very first minute and have had to learn to read slowly over the decades.

3. Do you remember a book that you read again and again as a child?

I fell in love with Rumer Godden's An Episode of Sparrows, about two children in post-World War Two London who created a garden in a bombed-out ruin. I read it over and over again, took it to bed with me and slept with it under my pillow, much to the detriment of the binding.

4. Why that book? Have you read it again as an adult? If so, was it like you remembered?

It was a book so far removed from the wilderness of Alaska that I grew up in--and yet Lovejoy and Tip became my best friends. They were street children, tough and prickly, who became unified in creating something beautiful in the middle of devastation. It had echoes of The Secret Garden, which I read much later, but unlike that classic, it contained hints of explanation about the inexplicable behavior of adults, who figure strongly in Tip and Lovejoy's fates--and the ending is one that has the satisfying conclusion found in the fairytales that I loved. Now as an adult, the book is much more sad than it was when I first approached it with a child's fearless, unsentimental, and rather savage point of view.

5. Why do you read?

I read to find connections with people I may never meet and with parts of the world that I may never see. I read for stories, ravenous for plots, racing through a book to reach the end and then returning to it over and over to savor its language and ideas. I read for the same reason that I write, to be able to carry on an ongoing conversation with the world.

Now--Vladimir , Kristianne,Alison, Matt, Nick, Katharine, Corinne, Jessi, and Cat--want to play? Tell us about your life in books by cutting, pasting, and answering these questions on your blogs???

7 comments:

Alison said...

Done - NOW I am off to bed.

Jessi Cotterill said...

O..O..Oh..m..m..my..g..g..god...!!! First book I read on my own??

As I use English as a second language, can I change the first question to the first English book I ever read?

janet said...

Yes!!!! And I look forward to the remote day when I can talk about the first Thai language book that I have read--if I live that long!

Katia said...

Thanks, Janet, for your very articulate answers - as per usual. Now, I really want to find that book and read it...

Janet Brown said...

Thank you for starting the conversation, Katia. My sister Alison and I have never talked about this aspect of our reading lives before and it is very moving to me.

Tokyo Ern said...

This looks pretty fun, I shall give it a shot myself, but probably on my day off.

Janet Brown said...

Still waiting, Tokyo Ern...