Today is my birthday, and I will be getting books, as I have for every birthday. To celebrate, here's a look back at my life as a Reader.
I have suffered all my life from people bothering me when I was trying to peacefully read. This is me at the age of two, being rudely interupted while reading Fox in Socks.
I was lucky to have grown-ups in my life who read to me (my grandfather, my mother, my father), although my father liked reading us scary books just to tease us. (I am the thumbsucker on the left).
Soon I was an inveterate bookworm, reading desperately whatever was at hand. This is me, age seven, in Portugal, reading a Ladybird biography of Lord Nelson. Why did no one buy this poor child more non-fiction? I had to re-read Lord Nelson about twenty times, and am bitter to think of all the knowledge I could have painlessly absorbed. The cat is named Mitzi.
Here's another picture from Portugal, to give Satchel, the dog, a place here too, even though it looks like my big sister is the one reading.
Then we moved to the Bahamas...where I bravely ignored the garish fabrics of the 1970s and managed to get in quite a bit of peaceful reading. Mostly Enid Blyton. I am ten in this picture, and I so badly would have loved an enormous box of the middle grade fiction of today.... there was no good library, and the one bookstore had a limited selection.
We spent our summers at my grandparent's house, and I looked forward lots to going to Arlington Central Library, where I would immediately pick out my favorite re-reads. Here I am, in the top bunk, during one of those summers.
And then we moved back to Arlington ourselves, and I became a sullen adolescent reader. This is me at the age of 13 celebrating Christmas with my family, clearly throwing myself enthusiastically into the fun of it all (not). It was the early eighties by then, but textiles hadn't improved much.
I spent much of the next few years reading to escape the trauma of growing up. The book I am reading here is Nobody's Garden, by Cordelia Jones ("Two very different girls become friends and share their secrets in a deserted garden that they discover among the blitzed houses of post-war London."). I have my own copy now, and still quite like it.
Then I went to college, and read as much I could to escape having to do the work. Here I am reading Gerald Durrell's How to Shoot an Amateur Naturalist.
No one bothered to take any pictures of me reading when I was in my twenties, although I did do lots of it....mostly re-reading. I would wander into bookstores, and nothing new would appeal...very sad.
In my thirties, I began to read aloud to my two boys (note: that's just a curl, not a dead rodent, on my cheek in the picture on the left, and we know longer have Thomas stickers on our living room wall, as shown at right).
But I have still managed to find time to read lots to myself (despite someone, naming no names, saying things like "I guess, Mama, you love that book more than you do your own little child....")
Here is a picture of me last night, reading The Jewel of the Kalderash, by Marie Rutkoski, well wrapped up in blankets and woolly sweater (our house is cold) with our current cat (Kitty) on my lap:
And that is my life with books. Thank you to anyone who has ever read me a book, given me a book (with a particular nod of thanks to my dear husband, for the books of this birthday!), sat with me peacefully to read a book, or, perhaps best of all, left me all alone to read in peace....