Indoctrination (Booking Through Thursday)

I’m a few days late with this but I loved the question, and decided to use it after finishing a work read about a rather lonely little girl.

When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.)

I definitely remember my dad reading to me when I was a little girl. When I was six, he started reading The Princess Bride to me, and after he turned the light of I grabbed the book and read the rest of it by the dim glow of my Hansel and Gretel nightlight.

My dad has always enjoyed sharing books with me, and lately my brother. I remember we went through a terrific obsession with Colleen McCullough’s First Man In Rome series back when I was in college. I always love buying books for him. He definitely had a love of reading instilled in him by my grandmother, who was a voracious reader much like me, though she preferred biographies, which are my least favorite. I don’t know if she was Superfast, but she always had a new book whenever I saw her. She also had a huge dictionary on a beautiful stand that was always opened to a different page.

My mom and I don’t share quite the same taste–she likes mysteries (particularly Amelia Peabody), but whenever I come across a book I think she’d like, I buy it for her birthday or Christmas.

Now, my brother is an interesting case. When we were growing up (he is younger), he HATED to read. I never understood how something that brought me so much pleasure could be so distasteful to him. However, in recent years, he’s come to realize that he does like to read, in fact he loves to read. It was only that he had been forced to read the wrong books. Now he gives me as many recommendations as I give to him. We share a love of fantasy and science fiction, something we share with all three of our blood-related first cousins, even though we’ve always lived on opposite sides of the country and didn’t see each other much growing up. It’s such a funky thing to have in common, but I love it about our family.

My family always teased me (gently, of course) about being such a bookworm. And I did always have my nose in a book–at dinner, in the bath, while walking. In fact, the only activity that kept me from reading was gymnastics. I couldn’t read and cartwheel at the same time, much to my great disappointment. And I couldn’t read in the car, but we always listened to audiobooks on long trips, and that was something our whole family enjoyed together. I particularly remember when we listened to Stephen King’s novella “The Mist,” which scared us all to pieces on a ski trip. I’m looking forward to the movie for just that reason.

But my parents never stopped me from reading, nor did they censor my reading, something for which I’m greatly appreciative. My dad tried to encourage me to put down the Sweet Valley High, but nothing was forbidden to me to read. That’s a little odd because we weren’t allowed to watch MTV (despite getting cable in 1980) or Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie, or listen to certain kinds of music. I’m not sure what to make of that, except to be thankful that I was trusted to read what I wanted.

23 thoughts on “Indoctrination (Booking Through Thursday)”

  1. Believe me, if I could’ve made that work, I would have. I’m sure I read while playing “balance beam” on the wooden wall in our backyard.

    Check out Sensawunda’s link–she’s one of my cousins! (and, no–you didn’t do the link wrong–I have a plugin that shrinks ’em).

  2. Mom got me books, often by trading for them (I hated losing friends like that) or by taking me to the library. I don’t remember seeing Mom with books, although both Mom and Dad read the newspaper every day. Now Mom reads a lot of romance novels. And gives any book I give her, even a ‘signed by the author’ “Tangled Vines”, to the town library.

    I read in the car (not while driving, I find it makes other drivers nervous) and I read in school on the school bus. Why not read in the car? If this was a social rule, that you are expected to relate to family while together, I wonder what impact having behind-the-seat DVD players and cell phones for each kid has on family life.

  3. Why not read in the car?

    Brad, for many folks it’s that reading in the car gives them a form of motion sickness, usually either nausea or headache (for me it’s the latter). I’d love to read in the car, but I just can’t!

  4. Yeah, for me it’s motion sickness that keeps me from reading in the car. I can’t even stare at a map for too long w/o starting to feel wonky. I think that I’d get sick trying to watch a movie, too. I was pretty happy with books on tape.

  5. I get nausea. :-p

    But I managed to train myself to be able to read on the bus in college. I lived at home and took city buses to campus, 45 min. one way, and I was an English major! I had to!! I think my muscle memory learned what to expect–turn, then down the hill, then a stop, etc.

    I remember hearing a PSA saying it’s bad for the eyes to read in a moving vehicle, but they didn’t say why.

  6. Superfast Reader, no, the problem should be the pattern of vibrations and motions.

    I do get car sick, usually on winding mountain roads, even if I am driving. But I got used to the small motions of the car, similar to getting over seasickness in rougher seas. Practice, experience.

    I think the PSA’s were about the fact that when you start reading, there is likely to be a noticeable amount of strain in the muscles around the eye. Some people equate eye strain to loss of vision, thus the Public Service Announcement. This is similar to the ‘reading by dim light will ruin your eyes’. Simple eye exercises, such as Dr. Gottlieb’s ‘Presbyopia Reduction’ exercises and the ‘palming and sunning’ exercises relax the eyes and tighten and firm the muscles and increase control of the eye muscles, resulting in reduced eye strain and often better vision.

    Remember the stories of Lincoln studying by candle light or oil lamp or some such? I never heard that President Lincoln went blind.

    It might be interesting to find if speed reading made one more susceptible to motion sickness or eye strain.

  7. I only get motion sick when I read in a car, though–and when I was much younger, before such things were illegal, I could read in the car if I laid flat on my back so I couldn’t see out the windows. I was told I was getting sick because of the motion in my peripheral vision. I can read signs out the window, and I never get sick when I’m not reading.

    And I’ve never been seasick a day in my life.

    I’m okay with not being able to read in the car, though. I enjoy staring out the window and talking to my husband and listening to music. Sometimes I knit (though easy stuff not requiring a pattern).

    I can’t see how speedreading would have anything to do with it. My brother and my parents are slow readers & their eyesight is just as bad as mine. My ability to read quickly is something that happens in my head. I don’t have a technique that I follow or anything. My brain can process words quickly, that’s all.

  8. My TV-watching was never censored, but only because I never wanted to watch anything remotely unsuitable.

    Like you, I read all the time as a child. My mother was a big reader too; we’d often eat dinner together with books in our hands. I only stopped reading at school (with the book held surreptitiously under the desk) when I started missing important information.

    My dad (my parents were divorced) strongly discouraged my obsession with reading. He was especially annoyed when I wanted to read at the dinner table, during short car rides, and while crossing the street.

  9. I held my books under the desk, too!

    I’m sorry your dad wasn’t supportive. I can totally relate to viewing a trip across the street as a perfectly acceptable excuse to get some reading done!

  10. Thanks. The sad things is, I think my dad’s attitude contributed somewhat to my sister’s aversion to reading. She’s eight years younger than me, and grew up hearing our dad nag me for reading too much. He only wanted me to read less and socialize more with the kids in our neighbourhood, but I think it gave her an unfortunate impression.

    Now that he’s faced with a teenage girl obsessed with makeup, hair, and clothes, he’s starting to get nostalgic for my adolescence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *