by Paul D. Marks
|A younger me|
When I was a younger kid (elementary school age), I did a lot of reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I particularly liked Landmark Books, history books put out by Random House, which were often kid—Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis, The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson and many others. They were one of the foundations that instilled a love of history in me that continues to this day. And of course, comic books, including Classics Illustrated—do they count as “reading”?
versions of adult histories. Books like
To be honest, I really do barely remember most of what I read in high school. A lot of the classics. Shakespeare. Greek mythology. Things like that—the usual stuff—but mostly for English class and not on my own. And everyone was also reading Kafka and Hesse then.
But maybe during high school and/or after, I read Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Proust. Dumas. Borges, still a fave, and all that fun stuff, as well some literary works of the day. And I might have snuck in a thriller or two. I read The Day of the Jackal and was blown away by it, especially because I knew that de Gaulle hadn’t been assassinated, but Forsyth still held me all the way to the last page. So then I read his The Odessa File and became a confirmed Forsyth fan. Also read The Godfather—who didn’t? And others. And, of course, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda. Sort of required reading for the time.
And yes, I think I read differently then than I do now. I probably didn’t think as critically then as I do today. Didn’t see the seams holding it all together. But, of course, part of that comes from being a writer. So we know how the sausages are made. We can see when an author is trying to manipulate us. Plus I was more of an idealist then, less cynical, both in terms of reading/writing and life in general. And just like my writing then was more juvenile, my reading skills were as well. Just as I would have been or was a different writer then, I’m a different reader today than I was then.
When you’re 16, 17, 18 you don’t have a lot of life experience to filter what you’re reading through. When you’re an adult, with a few miles under the hood, you read things through the prism of your life experience. And that colors how you see and read things. You’re more equipped to agree or disagree with the author, more equipped to form your own assessment of what you’re reading instead of being spoon-fed someone else’s opinion of the work, whether a teacher, critic or anyone else.
I still like reading a wide range of things, though I probably read more mystery and thriller these days, but I still read literary books and classics. And non-fiction. And while I may not have “loved” reading as a teen, being exposed to good literature at that time, even though against my will to some degree, gave me a foundation to fall back on so that when I became an adult I fell easily and gladly into the reading habit. There’s an ongoing argument as to whether kids should be exposed to this or that at young ages, forced to do things—like reading or listening to music they don’t like, etc. I think they should. Then they have something to fall back on. Exposure at an early age often comes back to us later. If I hadn’t
My biggest problem re: reading today is not enough time. My wife reads/listens to audio books in the car, but I work at home and I find it hard to concentrate on audio novels. My mind tends to wander. And I’ll read on the iPad or Kindle, but I still prefer the tactile sensation, both touch and smell and words on a page of a “real” book.
But ultimately I agree with what Sam said on Tuesday, “I still read for the same reasons I did as a child--to be astonished and delighted.” And that’s really what it’s about, isn’t it?
*** *** ***And now for the usual BSP stuff:
And speaking of Christmas, how ’bout picking up a copy of Vortex, Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea, White Heat or LA Late @ Night—hey, don’t blame me, I didn’t invent commercialism at the holidays.
And the e-book version of Vortex is still on sale for $0.99.
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