Friday, January 06, 2006

Wishful bookworm

Well, I'm stealing yet another topic from Trista. I can't help it, she's just so darn full of good ideas! Just a list of 15 things about me and books.
1. The first book I read all by myself was Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, and I was so excited when I realized I was reading the words for real that I ran into my parents' room and read the whole thing aloud to them.
2. Subsequently arose my inner bookworm and I was hooked on reading all the time. My mom hated to get mad at me about having my nose in a book when I was supposed to be doing chores, but she had to sometimes!
3. I was very proud of my bookcase that I painted purple myself, with almost the whole collection of the Babysitters Club, Anne of Green Gables, and a lot of Nancy Drew.
4. The Anne of Green Gables series are probably the most formative books of my life. I read them all as a little one. They gave me the confidence to be different and dreamy and still keep my self-esteem.
5. My oldest sister was the best gift-giver at the time because she was an English and Education major at college when I was little and she always gave me classic novels for presents- much more interesting than the kid books at the school library. She gave me one of my favorite books of all time, Jane Eyre, when I was 11. She also gave me one of my most formative books, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, when I was 12.
6. Another formative experience for me was reading A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door, although I was always miffed that the main female character didn't get to do the adventurous things that the male characters got to do. Many a moment since has been spent trying to explain what seeing is to a creature from another dimension who has never heard of the concept.
7. In the sixth grade, my teacher would let me out of class to go to the "reading closet" where they kept all the books they ever used for 6th grade English, and I could read whatever I wanted from there. So I read Animal Farm when I was 11, though I didn't understand what it was about.
8. Jr. High ruined my reading experience because suddenly there was so much homework and assigned reading to do that I didn't have time for pleasure reading anymore. I haven't read much for myself since. I resent this.
9. In the 9th grade, I was very proud for being one of the only students to answer our English teacher's question- about who affects us the most- by saying the characters in the books we read. Most people only said parents and friends. The teacher gave me a prize. Ms. Siegmann. She was cool.
10. Our high school started with 10th grade, and I was so excited that I was then allowed to choose what English courses I wanted to take, instead of the general classes we had to take before. I felt really lucky because the next year they instituted "10th grade English". How boring! I immediately took Shakespeare.
11. The next semester I went from our loosey-goosey Shakespeare teacher to Mr. Newton's (the man who does not give an A) AP Major Writers course that starts with Chaucer. His comments on my first paper- "Nice intro. Nice conclusion. No content." I worked my butt off for that guy and I credit him with teaching me how to write in one really hard semester. I continued to take his classes as much as possible after that.
12. Though its collection of GLBT related books consisted of one novel, my high school library probably saved my life with that one book. There was no information- nothing, nada, zip- on GLBT identity or issues in Health class or the textbook and I was desperate for information to show me I wasn't crazy. The library had Annie on my Mind, a novel about two high school girls around the 1950s who fall in love- they get found out and also accidentally out two of their teachers- it's not exactly a happy book, but it was a lifeline. I didn't want the librarian to see me check it out, though, and certainly didn't want my parents to see, so I read it in snippets in between class periods. I would sit on the floor in the back corner of the back row of stacks, read as quickly as possible, and put little pieces of paper in to mark my page before putting it back. I hope I wasn't the only queer student to ever discover it there.
13. The intro to Women's Studies at Sweet Briar College brought another of the best books for me- probably the best in non-fiction- The Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner. Thank you Professor Bart!
14. Other favorite books: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Pope Joan, First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung, Assata by Assata Shakur, A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch, Manifesta by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, My Dangerous Desires by Amber Hollibaugh, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast, Book of Shadows by Phyllis Curott, Foxfire by Joyce Carol Oates. I'll think of more later, I'm sure.
15. Currently reading: A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Now that I've graduated, I am wishing to return to my bookwormy days of old.


Trista said...

I also read Anne of Green Gables, but there was another series, same author I think, called Emily of Half Moon Farm, or something like that, which really impacted me more than then Anne books.

My English AP teacher was really harsh on my writing, too. But he never gave A's and my grade never reflected how hard I worked on the paper. He justified it by saying that I was the strongest writer in the class and he wanted me to push harder, but it was just so hard to watch people I was TUTORING in writing get better grades on their papers than I. So eventually I just gave up.

Great Post!

starevelina said...

Oh, yes. I loved the Emily books, too. I think there were three in that series? Even as a little kid, I was always looking for witchy things to read. So, put in an Anne-type context by Montgomery, the Emily series was especially appealing. For some reason, I remember the details of those less than of the Anne books, though. Maybe because Anne has movies based on the books. One of my favorite things about Anne- her "window friend" that she talks to in the orphanage is named Katie.