Feb 14, 2009

Avid Reader asked me what books I've read that changed my life, and what books I enjoyed as a kid. I guess I've never thought about that before. When I was a kid, I enjoyed reading biographies. I lived in Omaha from the time I was 8 until I was 13, so much of what I read then, was rooted in the Midwest. I read a lot of books about the plains Indians and the lives of the settlers and those of the cowboys. I read all the "Little House" books, many times. I remember when I was on the 4th grade at Bellevue Elementary, we did silent reading just before lunch. On more than one occasion I would be rousted from my reading by a nervous silence in the room and find my class mates patiently waiting for me to realize that the lunch bell had sounded. Our teacher would not dismiss us until everyone had put his book away. My mother was always an avid reader. Even though she only had a 9th grade education, she loved to read and was a regular library patron. My mom fancied novels, things like Tobacco Road, God's Little Acre, Grapes of Wrath, that sort of thing, along with the James A. Michener works. I read whatever she brought home for herself. When I would go to the library alone, the librarian sometimes looked at my selection and told me that it was a 'book for grownups' and that I might like something more 'my age'. But I didn't. I fondly remember reading Rally 'Round the Flag and The Mouse That Roared, always the fan of a spoof. My mom let me read Catch-22 when she was done with it. My reading has not been some grand intellectual pursuit. I've tried to read a bunch of the classics, but I'm not a fan of period literature and I don't like to think too much. I just like to be entertained. My dad once bought a set of the 'great books' from a door-to-door salesman and insisted that we would enjoy reading them. I tried but mostly in bits and pieces, but they didn't take. I used to be a big fan of popular fiction. John Grissom, John Sanford, Patricia Cornwell, that sort of who-dun-it stuff. Not so much anymore, though. I'm a lifelong fan of humorists like Garrison Keillor and Dave Barry, although Dave is best taken in small doses. A couple of books have had a lasting effect on me as an adult. From In Search of Excellence, I leaned about the value of doing a job well and the role good customer service makes in being successful. The Millionaire Next Door is a book I've read more than once. It is another testament to the formula for happy living. Unlike the title suggests, it is not a book that glorifies consumption. It is about thrift and priorities. Lately, I have read three books by Malcolm Gladwell that examine society and how things are connected. Outliers, The Tipping Point and Blink. Each is outstanding in its own way. Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt, is another book in the same vein that I enjoyed. Sometimes I get interested in a topic and read everything I can about it. For a period I was a self-proclaimed expert on the Lincoln assassination and another time I read everything I could find about Tombstone, AZ, and its silver mining history. Since I got my iPod, I find that I don't read as much as I used to, although I do download books and listen to them. Hope that is helpful, A.R. Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong, sometimes just full of it, but always judgmental and cranky

13 comments:

mouse (aka kimy) said...

fantastic post! of course I'm kind of partial too books and reading.

in jr high and high school I too read my ma's books when she finished them.... unfortunately she was a big fan books with absolutely no literary value so when I was 12 i read such books as valley of the dolls..... my mom didn't seem to have a censorship gene (which actually I appreciate now as much as then) and along with trashy books (and also some good books - don't get me wrong) she also loved, loved, loved movies....so I saw films like midnight cowboy, the graduate, and such things when they came out.....

happy heart day to you and all the sneeds! my word for the day is the quechuan word shungo - it means from my heart to yours!

Avid Reader said...

Thanks Merle!

Like Kim's mom, my mom didn't have a censorship gene either, and I had a much older sister, so I read many inappropriate books. I too loved the Little House set and fell into reading trances as you did.

Squirrel said...

I think you recommended a Maupassant story to me once. I always thought you'd like O.Henry.

Squirrel said...

When I was a kid i went through a phase where I read everything I could about Abe Lincoln-- it was 5th grade. the teacher told me to stop writing essays and doing all my book reports on books about Abe Lincoln!

Megan said...

I used to sit in a corner of the playground and read at recess, and the nuns would always yell at me to get up and run around. "Recess is not for reading!"

Mean old ladies...

Barbara said...

You sound extremely well-read to me! I was most interested in the fact that your mother was such an avid reader, leaving school after the ninth grade. I often wished my mother could have escaped into the world of fiction, but she saw her role in life as making coffee for my father and taking care of me. I'm sorry she missed out on so much.

dennis said...

Dennis can't really read or write.

e said...

Merle,

I too have read The Millionaire Next Door, and was wondering whether you might have any additional recommendations for further reading along the same lines???

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ever read any Zane Gray?

Reya Mellicker said...

This is great! All of it. Thank you.

bella rum said...

I'm having more and more difficulty reading. A problem with my eyes. I've been thinking of getting an iPod and downloading books. Can't believe I don't already have one.

Avid Reader said...

One of the many things I love about my Kindle is the ability to increase the type size to giant type. My S.O. ordered a Kindle 2 and I'm looking forward to comparing the two readers. You can also listen to books on it.

Kurt said...

I started on The Black Stallion books.