Do you remember the books you read when you were younger?
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t reading something, mostly for my personal entertainment. According to my parents, I started reading around age 3. At the time, there wasn’t a library in my hometown, so we had to travel quite a few miles to get to a public library.
The other option was checking out books from the library at my elementary school. I spent so much time there, I should’ve set up my own apartment in a corner somewhere. The head librarian, Mrs. H., was a kindly soul who made the library a fun place to hang out.
And the annual book fair at my elementary school? Heaven.
I can’t remember the titles of those childhood books now, but one book was a set of ghost stories and lost legends. The cover was creepy since it had a young ghost boy with blank eyes. One of the stories had to do with a ceramic cat; a thief on the run used the cat to hide a fortune in rubies after a robbery and scratched an X on the bottom for identification. The ceramic cat was one of several cats in a shop, it got sold and the thief never did find it again. True story? Maybe or maybe not.
Another story was about a painting of a castle at night, where a light in one of the windows would become visible now and then. The painting’s buyer saw this strange phenomenon and searched to find someone who knew the painting’s history. It turned out that the window in the painting was the window to a prison cell. When the prisoner died, the light in the painting went out permanently.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how some books stick in your mind and some don’t? Some books I remember because of the great art of classic illustrators such as Tasha Tudor, Garth Williams or Maurice Sendak. Others remain in my memory because of their great plots and character development.
With time, my literary taste in some ways has stayed the same (I still love good ghost stories, such as the stories of Virginia writer L.B. Taylor, Jr.) but it’s matured as the result of being exposed to various classic writers in my school classes (Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, William Shakespeare and Dorothy Parker, to name a few). I’ve discovered some wonderful modern authors — mostly because somebody recommends them or I read a blurb about them, and I start reading everything they’ve written.
I wonder if anybody’s ever studied how people’s tastes in books ebbs and flows over their lifetimes? What a fascinating study that would be. (“I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!”)
Blog readers, what are the books from the past that you remember the most and why?