A blogger I’ve been following for quite a while, Stephanie Faris, is holding a “group blog” thing. Each Thursday, everyone participating writes on the same topic and links up. Seems like a cool idea (i.e., it saves me the trouble of thinking up a topic), so why the heck not? This week’s topic:
Books I Loved Growing Up
(This is where we show what a geeky, nerdy, poindexter I’ve been all my life. [Yes, I know that desciption comes from the department of redundancy department.])
Growing up, I had two beloved sets of books that my parents bought for me before I was born: a set of 6 illustrated children’s dictionaries, and a set of 20 illustrated children’s encyclopedias. I LOVED those books. Each was about a centimeter thick, so they didn’t skimp on the young knowledgey goodness. They were also written around 1960, and so weren’t infused with too much anti-science “crazy-talk”, though there was a decided anti-communism slant (this was during the Cold War, after all).
I learned about dinosaurs, military insignia, statesmen, archery, countries, aviation, and on and on. If I was going to read something for pleasure, it was in these books. And if I hadn’t yet learned how to read, I soaked in the pictures.
Once I was literate, I then went to the libraries (school and public) as often as I could. I’d go straight to the 500 section: science. Like many children, I read everything I could on paleontology–and I didn’t restrict myself to the children’s section, I read the adult books, too. As obsessed as I was with dinos, I remember one book that I checked out again and again and again: Ultrasonics. I just couldn’t get enough about learning all the marvelous things you could do with sound.
Mind you, this is in second and third grades. I was a precocious, bookish child.
It’s how I spent the summer between fourth and fifth grade that still sparks family conversation: I read all twenty volumes of the Collier’s Encyclopedia. While other kids were outside, doing whatever other kids did in the summers when kids went outside, I secluded myself in my parent’s closet (it was a deep walk-in) and absorbed as much knowledge as I was able to understand (the symbolic math was a little much to comprehend).
Those are the books I loved. Science. Encyclopeidas. Dictionaries (oh, I loved a Webster’s my dad had). Text books. The elective fiction I’d read was science fiction, as if you couldn’t guess. See, gowing up in a world of aerospace, this was the stuff I thought everyone loved.
I never had any Dr. Seuss books, though I read the ones my acquaintances had. I never read Curious George. Or Babar. Or about the Little Prince (until last year). Except for a big book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, and a collection of easy-reader versions of various books my parents got at about the same time as the encyclopedias: The Wizard of Oz, Treasure Island, Robin Hood, etc.; I didn’t show much interest in anything that wasn’t science or reference. Truth be told, it’s not much different now.