Family legend has it I learned to read when I was three. The couple who lived across the hall from my parents were unable to have children; she was a schoolteacher, I was a teachable toddler. The rest is history; I’ve had a thing for books ever since. I started asking for—and collecting—books when I was a kid, and still have most of them. Those of you who know how many times I have moved house might pause here and have a good laugh.
It is impossible for me to go even a day without reading for pleasure. So you might imagine the excitement I felt as the Boy started school, and then approached reading age. Oh! The books we would share! The many lovely hours we would spend chatting about this author’s well-turned phrase or that one’s gift for imagery.
The Boy was, well, a boy. He was into bikes and balls and running around outside. He showed very little interest in books. But the parenting how-to books all say to set a good example (that is, let your children see you reading). Make books available, they say; and God knows they were available in our house, even stacked on the stairs he climbed every night to go to bed.
Until the summer Jurassic Park (the movie) came out. We had a long-standing tradition of going to the matinee most Saturdays, trading off choosing rights (he probably saw more chick flicks than he wanted, and I developed a deep and abiding love for the action-adventure genre). Jurassic Park really ignited the Boy’s imagination.
“Well, lemme tell ya,” I said on the drive home. “You may have liked the movie but the book … the book was even better.” He was intrigued, and the minute we walked in the door, I got out my tattered mass-market paperback for him and he sat down on the couch to read. Right then. My heart swelled.
It should be noted that he was just nine at the time and, though he was (and is) bright, Michael Crichton was a bit too much for him. I sympathized when the Boy decided to give up some days later, but told him we’d leave the book out on the coffee table until he was ready for it.
Two summers later he was. After he finished Jurassic Park he began working his way through the Crichton oeuvre, lying on the living room couch with a stack of books beside him. And he still has the reading habit, though his tastes these days tend toward Chuck Palahniuk, David Sedaris, and Seth Godin. He asks for books for Christmas. He even recommends books to me, which makes me happier than I can even begin to describe.
There is nothing quite like a handpicked book recommendation, eh?
And that leads me to the true definition of despair: it is that I will never, ever have the time to do this site justice. Seriously.
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