My mother hid in her books and unless you were my mother reading was taboo in our house. Of course we could read for our homework but heaven forbid we should be caught reading something for fun. My father just knew there was bound to be something else we were suppose to be doing, like cleaning house.
I think it affected how I learned, or didn’t learn, to read.
In the third grade I had to leave my class every day to go to a special tutor to teach me how to read. You’d think I would have tried harder since I was already one of those kids that was singled out for special tortures on a weekly, if not daily, basis both at school and at home. Is it really a prerequisite for being creative to have a hellacious childhood?
I may have been slow to read but reading books became my lifeline into a world I craved from deep inside. Yet it still took me into the ninth grade before I succumbed to my love of books and reading. Even then I had to say it was for school or I would get into trouble.
Because of that and so much more, I didn’t think I was very smart growing up. I never did well in school and it seemed I was always getting into trouble. Of course following in the path of my parents, I was pregnant at 16 and married at 17.
I didn’t finish high school but I did take the GED when I was 21. I was quite surprised when the teacher said I didn’t need to take the classes. I was shocked and told her I thought I did. She asked me if I read a lot. Surprised I said I did now. She told me that my scores on the pre-exam showed that I could easily pass the test. I still didn’t believe her. How could that be when I was considered stupid in school and rarely had good grades. Of course I studied because I wanted to make sure I would pass, especially math; I was never very good at that.
I was surprised that I not only passed all five tests but I received three out of the five tests with higher scores than my boyfriend at the time. He did well in school and had high SAT scores, he just decided to goof around and not graduate high school. Of course he was quite depressed when all of his scores weren’t higher than mine.
That still didn’t convince me I was smart. I took an English class because I wanted to learn to write stories. I ended up helping other students to understand the assignments. I argued with the teacher when I didn’t agree with his answers, in fact I discovered he had taken a book like ours and wrote his own answers into them instead of having a teacher’s manual. I argued even harder after that. When I excitedly mentioned to my grandmother that the other students asked for my help she said, “They’re that stupid?” Is it any wonder I didn’t believe in myself or thought I wasn’t smart?
How much further along would I be now if I was encouraged to read? I know it doesn’t do any good to look back and say what if, or if only, but it is something I am doing a lot of at this time in my life.
I love reading books now and I passed that down to at least one of my daughters, the other one likes to write and draw and paint. They are both very talented and I am so glad they didn’t grow up in a household where they had to worry about getting into trouble for reading.
My All Time 50 Favorite Authors
- Mercedes Lackey – Sci-Fi/Fantasy
- Tanya Huff – Sci-Fi/Fantasy
- Iris Johansen – Mystery and Romance
- Patricia Cornwell – Mystery and Thriller
- S. E. Hinton – YA (she is the first author that I enjoyed reading)
- Franklin W. Dixon – YA Mystery
- Natalie Goldberg – On Writing
- Nora Roberts – Romance, Fantasy, Suspence
- Julie Garwood – Romance and Suspence
- Elizabeth Gilbert – Memoir
- J. K. Rowling – Fantasy and children’s literature
- Stephenie Meyer – YA Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
- Sarah Ban Breathnach – Non Fiction and mind and body
- Gael Baudino – Sci Fi/Fantasy
- Kay Hooper – Mystery and Thrillers, Romance
- Suzanne Collins – YA Sci Fi/Fantasy
- Barbara Kingsolver – Literature & Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry
- Adrienne Rich – Poetry
- Wayne W. Dyer – Non Fiction, Self Help
- Laura Munson – Non Fiction, Memoir
- Anita Diamant – Literature and Fiction, Religion and Spirituality
- Amber Wolfe – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Starhawk – Religion and Spirituality
- Sue Monk Kid – Fiction, Memoir
- Gary Zukav – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Julia Cameron – Non Fiction
- S.A.R.K. – Health, Mind and Body
- Marion Roach-Smith – Memoir, Non-Fiction
- Karen LaPuma – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Ted Andrews – Non-Fiction
- Scott Cunningham – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Caroline Myss – Non-Fiction, Body and Mind
- Rita Golden Gelman – Children’s books, Memoir
- Diane Stein – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Echo Bodine – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Linda A. Firestone – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Jean Shinoda Bolen – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Sanaya Roman – Non-Fiction, Spirituality
- Gabrielle Roth – Non-Fiction
- Jennifer Louden – Non-Fiction
- Jack Canfield – Non-Fiction
- Veronica Roth – YA Fantasy
- Lindsey Fairleigh – Fantasy Romance
- Julianne Maclean – Memoir
- C. Greenwood – YA Fantasy
- Maureen Murdock – Memoir
- Loretta Ferrier, PH.D – Non-Fiction
- Edgar Allan Poe – Poetry
- Rachael Herron – Memoir
- Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Non-Fiction, Folklore and Mythology
If you haven’t read some of these authors I hope you will check them out and see if you could someday love them too.
What was it like in your family?
Did you see your parents read for pleasure?
Was there any conflict around reading?
Who are your top five authors?
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