Friday, January 22, 2010

Fundamentals!

It's Friday -Yay, Yay! TGIF time, once more. And also, that means it's time for an Only The Good Friday post too! (This theme-meme, whatever you care to call it, originated from the blog of Shelly Tucker's This Eclectic Life and although this post I am pointing you to isn't her "Only The Good Friday" post for today, it struck a big chord with me.

Why? Because for openers I have always -ALWAYS -enjoyed, usually loved, to read! Anything! Put me in some place where I have to wait -like a doctor's waiting room, the emergency room, anyplace, and I will look for something, anything, to read while I am waiting. I also always liked/loved to read at home too -often while waiting for the damned fairy godmother of housekeeping to arrive or another one who cooks fantastic meals for the family and for me, while I sit contentedly by, reading my book.

I have to confess too that for the past almost two years, I have read very little -other than other people's blog posts and ok, the daily newspaper, which I basically just scan cause there's rarely anything all that spellbinding in it. I have a stack of books I purchased almost two years ago now, sitting on the shelf in my bedroom, waiting for me to get around to reading them so I can then determine which one of my daughters, maybe my son, or perhaps my 12-year-old grandson, might appreciate and enjoy reading. (Yes, I tend to do that with books I plan to give as gifts -I read them first. My kids know I do that and they do -I think -understand that I do that so as to get a feel for which one would most appreciate this particular story line, who likes this or that author too maybe as well. I don't do that with books my Grandson has specifically put on his "wish list" of books but I do read more grown up type books and determine if I think it is of a topic he would enjoy and also, understand now or perhaps not for another year or two -or more.

Shelly talks in her post I linked you to here about words and also, about reading and then too, about censorship. And she asked if any of us -her readers -were censored by our parents or others in what we were expected or allowed to read.

Censorship -with respect to books -was a non-existent entity in my homelife as a child. My Mom only "censored" -if you will -my readings with respect to what she considered to be those "trashy" magazines such as True Story or True Romance and though she didn't forbid me to read them, she simply said she didn't like them, didn't care for them being tossed around in her home.

But when it came to books, anything was fair game as far as I was concerned!

When I was in the fourth grade -nine years old -I read the book (and it was the very first of many huge books I would tackle) "Not As A Stranger." For those unaware, this is a novel about a doctor who marries a nurse; of their love, their marriage -and all the things that accompany marriage as well as relationships outside of marriage (i.e. sex). Quite an undertaking for a nine-year-old to read just by sheer volume along but also, due to the topics often discussed in this book, for a kid like me -naive as all-get-out where relationships between the sexes of any type were concerned, I am still surprised I understood a thing written about in that book.

I read it again when I was around 12, maybe 13 and yet again, when I was 16-17 years old and it was absolutely amazing how much more I understood that was taking place in this story!

But the first time I brought that book into the house, my Mom -knowing full well what it was about -didn't say I couldn't read it, didn't bar me from that. Instead, she just made a comment about the size and did I think I'd be able to handle that big a book?

In my senior year in high school -or maybe it was the summer I graduated -I got a copy (paperback) of the big seller that year, "Peyton Place" by Grace Metalious. (Not sure of the spelling of her name) That book was notorious then as being totally filled with sex and all kinds of other scandalous behavior. Again, my Mom may have raised an eyebrow when she saw the title, but she never spoke out against it.

On the other hand, when I finished it, one of my best friends back then asked if she could borrow my copy so she could read it too. "Sure, no problem!" I'd said. (Loaning books has been something I did then, quite freely, and my daughter and I still maintain that a good book is best when shared to this day.)

So, anyway, my friend borrowed the book and within two days I think it was, she brought it back to me, saying her Mom wouldn't allow her to read this piece of filth. Okay. Suit yourself was my theory.

Fall of that year, things changed in that several of my high school friends left to go to college. I was left behind as there were no funds -no water in that well, as it were -for me to do that too -but at Christmas my friend -the one whose Mom wouldn't allow her to read Peyton Place came home on Christmas break and hurried down to my house to give me the most incredible news.

She was in the process of reading the book "The Chapman Report" (I don't recall the authors here and frankly, don't feel up to surfing for the information right now). I was dumbfounded by this bit of news! (Anyone who knows anything about this book and Peyton Place knows that The Chapman Report was reported to be even more explicit in talk about those big no-no's -sex, of course!

And not only was she reading it, but it was out in the open, with the book laying on top of the dining room table at her Mom and Dad's house!

Again, I was in a state of shock from that piece of news too!

"How in blazes did you manage to smuggle that book past your Mom?" I asked.

Laughing, my friend said it was easy as she had simply told her mom it was a book she had to read for some class or other and because of the title having the word "Report" in it, her Mom had bought that line.

Well, that lasted a couple of days until my friend's older brother arrived home from college too and upon seeing that book on the table, he questioned his mother as to whether or not she had perhaps lost her sanity or something by allowing a book like that to be brought into the family home. But, having bought her daughter's explanation that it was required for some college class, she repeated that to her son and he in turn, about went into hysterics, laughing!

I don't think it hurt me one iota, having been allowed to read whatever I chose from early on. I took the same tack with my own children too -allowing them to pick and choose what they wanted to read. (Granted, I was doing that with them more to give them some, ANY, incentive just to learn to read, to read better, to learn to love reading then in the process too.)

And, I do believe it helped them in all of those areas too as both my daughters do enjoy reading -a lot. My son -well, he's not so heavily into books as his Mom, sisters, even his Dad, all are, but he does really love any magazine that has anything in it at all involving CARS!

Truth be told though, I don't believe in censorship -not of books, magazines, newspapers, radio, television, movies either. I do however believe in self-censorship that if you or I decide we don't like a particular topic, genre, author, artist, whatever, then it is up to you, to me, to decline reading or viewing said thing.

It is not up to me to determine what things are enjoyable to others overall. That I do that with the books I purchase with the intent on giving them to one of my daughters or my son -well, that is simply to try to figure which one would enjoy reading it first because I know, if either of the other two has an interest in that book, topic, author, etc., they will request that they be given a chance then to read it as soon as the recipient has completed it! So, I'm not censoring them in the sense of telling them, "NO, you can't read this!" but rather, this person probably would be more interested in it than you right now.

And you know something else too -if my Mom had told me way back when that I was forbidden to read some such book, you can bet your bottom dollar it would have just increased my desire to read that book then and there!

And now, I have to confess that today, in order to get caught up again with my blog readings, I did read all 190 plus blogs sitting there, waiting for me, on my reader but because I'm also a bit bogged down right now -trying to finish the Christmas counted-cross stitch sampler as well as wanting to not put down the great find I came across last Saturday at one of the local Goodwill stores, I want to scrounge as much time as I can to read yet another masterpiece by James A. Michener!

Last Saturday, I came across two books by this great author -"Alaska" and "Chesapeake" -both in paperback versions and for less than a buck, I got both books. Then, on Tuesday, when I was in town with Mandy and we had stopped at another local Goodwill store, I came across a hard bound copy of "Texas" -also by the late, great Mr. Michener and got it for the grand sum of 89 cents!

Can you believe that luck?

I've already read "Alaska" and loved it but I bought it to pass it along to my kids as I doubt any of them have read anything as yet by Michener! They'll also benefit from my having found the other two books as well when I get through with them.

So it's really a good thing for me that I came across these books, that it spurred me back to wanting to read again too and that especially can be nothing BUT A darned good thing!

The only thing censoring me is the desire to read and embroider at the same time and that, I haven't yet figured out how to do unless I start buying books on cds or tapes!

Have a great weekend and remember too -"Reading IS Fundamental" for everything!

13 comments:

Linda said...

The only book that I ever remember being forbidden to read was one entitled "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin. The book was based on a diary that Griffin kept of his six-week journey posing as a black man while traveling on Greyhound buses throughout the south. If I remember correctly my Freshman Humanities teacher had mentioned it so I found it at the library, brought it home, and was immediately told by my father that there was no way I was reading that book while I lived in his house. To this day I have never figured out why as my father was not by any means a racist. I'm sure he had his reasons but at the time I wasn't privy to them, I was just told in no certain terms that book was going back to the library.

Funny this is, I didn't sneak back to the library and read it there against my father's wishes. Seems to me that's something I would have done back in my early high school years but I didn't.

Mysteries all around!

Jocelyn said...

I am so with you. My parents just let us take anything off the shelf and read anything we wanted. That was one of the finest parts of my upbringing.

Right now, I lead a girls' book club in a 4th grade classroom, and my daughter came up to me and let me know there's a "bad" word (turns out, it's the "sh--" one) in the book we're reading right now. Well, okay. That word exists in the world, and if they want to talk about it, I'm ready to discuss how books can bring us glimpses of the world we might not get otherwise.

And if any parents complain, I'm ready to hammer that point home even harder.

Logophile said...

Ya know,
I was an avid reader from really early and while do recall some "guidance" from my folks, I always managed to read exactly what I wanted to read.
By age 15 I was advising my mom about which of my library titles were too racy for her tastes.

The little Logos at 10 and 13 haven't attempted anything I wasn't comfortable with them reading. The older one actually decided that the Harry Potter series was a little too dark for him. He finished reading them but didn't want to see The Half-Blood Prince when it came out.
I was pleased when he told me that.
First, that he had the sense to pay attention to how the stories made him feel and attend to that enough to decide not to see the movie. Secondly, that he has those conversations with me.

We don't get TV reception so books are the big entertainment around here. I love the books on CD and MP3 for those combo activities, and my kids are hooked on them too.

TechnoBabe said...

My lifestyle is different from you in that I don't live in a home with anyone else but hubby and our life is easy going mostly and with no structure. You live with other family members and animals and you have lots of jobs to participate in the family.
But you and I have a huge thing in common, reading. Ever since I could read I had a book either in hand or near by. With so much free time these days I go to the library once a week. I bring home five to fifteen books a week. I usually finish one book a day. I wash a load of clothes and go back to reading, I vacuum and go back to the book. I go to doctor appointment with a book in my purse. If I have a few minutes to wait anywhere I have a book with me.
So this post brings to the forefront one of the things I like about you.

Debbie said...

I haven't ever censored what my kids read. They have all been blessed with a great ability to read and read adult books from a very young age. I just told them to come to me with any questions or if anything in the book bothered me. Then, I quit worrying. I simply could not keep up with what they all read!
On the other hand, I have friends who read every single book before they let their kids read them!

Paula said...

I love to read also as do my daughters. We jokingly call ourselves "book whores", because we very seldom every pass up a good book.
I do remember my Mom censoring a couple of books when I was a kid. I came home from school one day with "The Amityville Horror", I don't remember how old I was, but she made me promptly take it right back. Apparently thought it would have been to scary for me and she was probably right. I was, and still am, pretty much a chicken.
The other one that I remember her not letting me read was a book called "Run Shelly Run". I don't remember the author but do know that it was written for teenagers. I still don't agree with her decision on this one. It was about a runaway girl who got into drugs and prostitution. I may have to look that one up and read it now that I'm great big! LOL~

terri said...

I read like a maniac as a kid. I spent more time at the library than anywhere else. I could lose hours in that place. I have always loved books. My parents never censored my reading, but I suspect it had more to do with not knowing the subject of the books I read. I started out innocently enough, reading Judy Blume books for kids. Little did I know that her books for more mature readers could be quite explicit. I don't think it did me any harm though, and I am still an avid reader, though, like you, I spend more time reading blogs than books these days.

Marguerite said...

I'm still waiting for the fairy godmother of housekeeping , too! I loved to read growing up, too, and whenever I had a book that I thought my parents would disapprove of, I would just hide it from them, and read it in my room. And I remember the show, Peyton Place, and the whole family watching the show, together! Those were the days!

Deb said...

I am also a huge fan of James Michener - and have many of his books on my shelves. I remember when my daughter was in 8th grade and she was reading 'The Color Purple'. A nosy neighbor felt the need to call me to inform me that 'The Color Purple' was inappropriate for her to be reading. I then told her that my daughter and I,in fact, were reading the book together - having discussions as we read. My neighbor hung up - disappointed. I never censored - I often would read with them which allowed us to have important discussions. Happy reading!

Debo Blue said...

Hey Jeni!

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

I love reading...I really do but I don't do it as much as I should or would like. When I'm home the TV takes precedence usually and then it's all over.

The only time I really get to read is when I'm traveling.

Smalltown RN said...

Well I must admit I wasn't much of a reader when I was young. I am dyslexic and found reading so challenging. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I started to get a real appreciation for books.

I am a very slow reader...but I do read. I read about a dozen or so books a year. I have colleagues at work who read that much in a month..it's just crazy.

Reading opens up so many doors..it provides for enlightenment, and provides shear joy of reading something new and adventerous.

Dr.John said...

I grew up in a non censorship house and pretty much raised my kids the same way.