They’ve been in my life since I can remember.
Updated 17 June 2013.
My parents were readers. We always had a lot of newspapers and magazines at our house and a built-in case full of books. When it came to books, Dad read non-fiction and Mom read fiction. He read books when he wanted to know something. ‘I’ve read every economics book in the Granite Falls Public Library,’ he said once, probably five of them. Mom’s older sister had taught her to read before she started school, and she read a book or three per week ever after until the last five months of her life.
At the public library, I got to pick out books for myself before I could read them. I remember pestering my oldest cousin to read me one of those books. As I was learning to read, I’d read aloud from the Dick and Jane text at the Knutson house as they finished their breakfast and I waited for Carol and Betty to walk to school. It must have been agony for them.
The great day came when my reading took off. I could choose books at school and walk to the public library. The public librarian, Mrs. Whitney (later the school librarian) and Mrs. Palmer who followed at the public library, became my greatest teachers always on the alert for what I might like and wanting to discuss the books with me.
I had a paper route and a lot of my money went for Scholastic Book orders or discoveries at the drug store. Whenever I got gift money, I bought a book. Reading had become a major part of my life.
When I became a librarian in my early twenties, people startled me by making confession that they did not read enough. Surprised as to why I should be told that, I quickly replied, ‘Neither do I.’ I don’t hear confessions any more, but I still flagellate myself that I do not read all that I intend to read. Worse, because I quit employment in 2000 in order to devote more time to reading and writing, I now worry that I will not live long enough to read everything I intended. Often, I joke with people that I have caught up to the 12th century.
In order to read more, I long ago gave up ephemeral activities. I was never interested in sports, not even as a spectator, I stopped watching commercial television, I skip most sections of the daily newspaper, but never the feature articles. Decades ago, I taught myself that if I start a book and it fails to grab me, I am free to quit it. Because of this choice, most of the books I read rate high with me.
I always have something to read with me, the expression in our family being, ‘You never know when you’re going to be caught in a flood.’ So, we carry our flood books. Because of some specific project, I research and read task-fulfilling stuff almost all the time, but when it comes to reading books generally, I fail my own expectations. Most of the books that I read to the finish are ones that I intend to read on an emerging priority basis or that I read in those hours, often between 2 and 4 a.m. When I cannot sleep, I regard tossing and turning as too wasteful. Because I am in a book club, I read a number of books that I would not otherwise choose.
Copyright © 2009, 2010 by Roger Sween. A portion of this page on my reading career formerly appeared with Read in 08.
Due to the complications since 2010 of downsizing my library, moving from Red Wing, and involvement in other endeavors, I have fallen behind in chronicling my reading but have began to catch up. For notices of books read see the following:
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