Reading Culture and Books
This week’s Throwback Thursday subject is one I really enjoy as I’ve always been a reader.
Who were the readers in your family? Were there some people who did not like to read or could not read?
Mum liked to read and she always read to Naomi and I when we were children. Her books, I still have some of them, were mostly romances and they were my introduction to adult books once I’d read all my books and my cousin’s books. Mum also bought a lot of Reader’s Digest Condensed books and I read a lot of them until I realised how heavily edited, they were. I think everyone has a stash of these books that you just can’t give away. At the time I did find them a good source of reading material though.
I can’t remember seeing dad read anything other than the newspaper. Naomi did not care for reading as a child. I put this down to teachers who would not allow her to read books appropriate to her age but she was more likely to be out playing with her friends while I liked to be alone to read and do things on my own. When she was a bit older, she enjoyed mystery stories and read a lot of Agatha Christie.
Did your family subscribe to the newspaper? If you did get the paper, was your Sunday newspaper considered special? What part did you enjoy?
I think we did. We certainly had papers in the house but sometimes someone might have brought one home from work or the shops. The Sunday paper was always bigger and had supplements in it which I enjoyed reading. I always looked forward to the travel section.
Did your home have books strewn around? Hardbacks or paperbacks?
My childhood home had books, but not strewn around unless they were being read. They had their place in a cupboard or bookcase. I had bookshelves in my room too. Mostly, they were hardbacks in those days but later on paperbacks began to creep in because they did not cost as much.
Did you frequent the library at school?
Did I? It was my go-to place in High School. At the primary school I went to we used to have a “library lesson” every week. I liked going to the library but the hour we had there was frustrating for me. First, we had to wait to pick a book, we sat at wooden tables that held 4-8 kids and were sent a table at a time to the shelves. Our classes were big, 40 kids was not unusual, so just getting a book took time if you were not on one of the first tables chosen. Finally, I’d get to choose my book and settle down to read. Then it would be “Stop reading. Mrs Pannell (the librarian) is going to talk to you about the latest books.” so I’d have to put my book down and listen to her talk for about ten or fifteen minutes. (Maybe it wasn’t as long as that but if felt like it.) When that was over, we could read again but we only had an hour in the library so then it was “Put your books away.” unless you were checking them out. I rarely checked books out because I was so shy, I didn’t want to talk to the librarian. I would go and try to find the book I wanted again the following week. Sometimes I did find it, I became good at understanding the shelving system.
In high school I liked to go to the library during my lunch break as we had an hour. At my first school this worked out well. My two friends and I would eat our sandwiches and then spend the rest of the time in the library. In my next school I got a shock. The library was not available to me every day. Girls had it for two days, boys had it for two days and the fifth day was for senior students only. That made me so angry. Why did we have to be separated just to read? I didn’t go to the library to talk to other kids. I went there to read. One of many reasons I hated that school.
How about the local community library? Did you have a library card?
Yes, I did have a library card. Mum took us to the library for the first time, it was in an adjacent suburb to us, but after that I often walked over on my own to get books. It would take I suppose twenty minutes or half an hour to get there but we walked everywhere so it didn’t seem unusual to me.
What was the first book you remember reading?
I’m really not sure. Mum read to us a lot so I can’t be sure what was the first book I read at home. I did have Raggedy Ann and a book of horse stories that I read myself. At school of course there was Dick & Jane and other readers.
Did you have a collection of books (Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Happy Hollisters, etc?)
I had the whole collection of Donna Parker books. I had a few Trixie Belden’s too. My friend Gillian had
the “Chalet School” books and I think I borrowed most of them to read too.
Did you read comic books? If so, what titles?
I read comics. Not Superman, Batman or even Archie and Jughead, although we did sometimes read those. We had girls’ comics, British ones, like “Bunty”, “Mandy”, “Judy” and “June & Schoolfriend”.
Did you end up a bookworm, a casual reader, or someone who read only when required?
I don’t know whether to classify myself as a bookworm or a casual reader these days. Sometimes I have a reading binge and read one book after another but then I might go a few weeks and hardly read at all.
Is there a book from your childhood you would like to read again? If so, what book?
I still have some of my childhood books and I do read them from time to time. “Little Women” “The Secret Garden” etc. and various girls’ stories from my early teens. I haven’t read “What Katy Did” for a long time. I would like to read that again when I unpack it.
What book or books have been extremely meaningful or influential in your life?
I have read a lot of books in my life so I can’t pick just one easily. I remember that “1984” made a deep impression on me especially the first time I read the unabridged edition. Also, Neville Shute’s “On The Beach”. I remember giving a lot of thought to what I’d choose to do if I knew that I was going to die.
BONUS QUESTION: What book(s) do you frequently gift to others? Why?
I don’t give books very often. I used to always get David books because he was a reader and I knew what he liked. I could always find him the latest Isaac Asimov, Clive Cussler or Wilbur Smith book. I usually only get books for people I know are readers or interested in a particular subject.
My husband is a huge Clive Cussler fan. I think he has all his books in hardback – along with many others. Reading provides such pleasure. I worry many children are not getting exposed to reading as they once did.
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Guys seem to like those action adventure books. I read a few of them and like the historical aspect of the stories but not all the violence. I don’t think children read as much as they used to either. That’s why the Harry Potter books were great as they introduced kids to the idea of reading again.
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