My First Book

I’m positive that my parents read to me at an early age.  I don’t have any specific memories of it (other than Twas The Night Before Christmas), but I’m sure they must have done so.  My earliest reading memory is plowing through a Paddington book with the idea of just getting it finished.  My memory is that it was about 200 pages long, but I can’t find a Paddington book that is more than 40 pages, so I’m guessing this isn’t the sharpest recollection.  I do remember that I read it in our family room in Suffolk.

Anyway, while I’m sure I was reading things before I became a regular at the Kempsville Public Library, the earliest full-length book I can remember is Erma Bombeck’s “At Wits End.”  Basically, my parents always had a closet full of paperbacks and this one struck me as funny.  Plus, it had a funny picture on the front.

Now, maybe Erma Bombeck appealed to other 7 year old boys, but I think I may have been the only one.  Everything she wrote struck my 7 year old mind as humorous and fascinating.

I recently started thinking about it and identified a few reasons:

1.  As an only child, stories about families with lots of kids always interested me.  It felt like getting a peek at an exotic world that I didn’t belong to.

2.  While I understood enough of her writing to get some of the humor, I really believed that she had a son who never emerged from his room and who was only observed through vague reports of “sightings” within the house.

3.  It contained stories of domestic life, even if they were parodies.  Both of my folks worked full-time, so I went to school and a babysitter every day.  I did have plenty of time with my parents around and felt secure, but my life didn’t have any resemblance to a more idealized childhood. 

4.  I was very interested in reading anything that my parents had read.  Speaking of that, I was at Barnes & Noble yesterday and saw Leon Uris’s “Trinity.”  I don’t know if it is entertaining or not, but I remember my Dad reading it when I was a little kid and it was always a “War and Peace” type benchmark for me as a kid.  Impossibly long, but someday I’d read it.  I guess I should just read it at some point.

Thankfully, a buddy introduced me to Louis L’Amour shortly after this.  “The Daybreakers” kicked ass.


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