(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) Books, Books, Books! was the title of my library presentation for my son's Cub Scout den last year. You want to work a tough crowd? Try entertaining a group of overly excited eight-year-old boys on a Friday night with a talk about books. Stand up is easier. While not as exciting as whittling and geocaching, the presentation went remarkably well. The boys all seemed to be interested and had a good time. When I was a kid I would have loved a Friday night at the library! I loved books and always had my head buried in a book. I read standing up, sitting down, or walking. The best summer afternoon was one spent at the library!
My first favorite author was Miriam Clark Potter. I loved her Mrs. Goose stories--Hello! Mrs. Goose, Just Mrs. Goose, No, No, Mrs. Goose, Our Mrs. Goose, Goodness, Mrs. Goose! My favorite book in third grade was Charlotte's Web. I read it over and over. Fourth grade--Little Women. Fifth grade--Johnny Tremain. Sixth grade was a four way tie--the Little House series, Constance by Patricia Clapp, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, and Star Girl by Henry Winterfield. I also loved fairy tales--the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, The Red Fairy Book, The Blue Fairy Book. My grandmother hated the fairy tales. She thought I'd find them too scary. No way. I loved when Cinderella's step-sister chopped off her toes to fit her foot into Cinderella's glass slipper. They don't write kid's stories like that any more...
In junior high my best friend gave me a Barbara Cartland romance for my birthday. I was hooked. According to the Barbara Cartland website, Dame Barbara wrote 723 books during her lifetime, and I think I read them all (or maybe it just seems like I did). How can you not love books with titles like The Wicked Marquis, The Dangerous Duke, and The Elusive Earl? Then there were the "love" books--An Arrow Of Love, Lucky In Love, The Problems Of Love, Conquered By Love. I also read Hungry for Love, The Race for Love, Prisoner of Love, The Karma of Love, and The Treasure Is Love, among many (many) others. I developed my love (sorry) for alliteration and ellipses in writing thanks to Barbara Cartland.
By the time I hit high school I was ready to delve into more "serious" literature. I discovered the Harlequin Romance. I loved the exotic settings, the breathless women, and the imperious men (How often does one actually get to use the word imperious except when discussing a Harlequin Romance?) I worked at a local department store through my high school years, and on Friday night after work I'd stop at the grocery store and pick up a Harlequin from the revolving book rack at the front of the store. I'd start reading as soon as I got home and finish the book around two in the morning. On Saturday night the pattern would repeat.
During my college years I expanded my horizons and sampled the works of fantasy authors Terry Brooks and J.R.R. Tolkien, though my leisure reading was still primarily populated by my handsome Harlequin heroes (Alliteration. Thank you, Dame Barbara). As an English major my coursework focused on the heavy hitters of American and English literature--Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, and James Joyce. I loved Beowulf (Someone had to...), as well as the works of Charles Dickens (Great Expectations, Oliver Twist), the Brontes (Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights), and Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice).
My reading tastes these days lean more towards historical mysteries, biographies, and histories. I haven't picked up a Harlequin in years. I've come full circle though. I'm back to reading children's literature, now with my son, though his taste definitely leans more towards nonfiction than mine ever did. His journey will be different than mine, but that's the great thing about books. Every story is different.
Submitted for the 118th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.
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