When I was a young teen, the money I earned mostly came from babysitting. I would save up that money to buy books. I wanted books more than anything else.
When I got into B Dalton, or maybe it was Walden Books?, anyway, the bookstore at the mall--I would be so excited that I couldn't stand still. Literally, I would stand in front of the young adult section tipping from side to side about to wet my pants! I learned to go to the bathroom first, right away, as soon as I got in the store. Then, I could come back and browse to my heart's content. So many books!
This was circa 1975 and the young adult section was one bookcase. But to me, it was heaven. I had favorite authors I looked for right away--Kin Platt, Judy Blume, and Paul Zindel were at the top, and S.E. Hinton of course, and Robert Cormier. I followed the suggestions or comparisons in the back of the paperbacks I already had to find more authors I might like. This led me to books like A Separate Peace and Lord of the Flies and The Catcher in the Rye--old books I could (and did) get at the library.
I loved being immersed in the world of the story! I was able to go to places I had never been to--like New York City or California or a boarding school. And I could find out about drugs and pregnancy and domestic abuse without experiencing any of that in my real life. I could empathize with kids in difficult situations, and feel an easing of my own normal angst.
In eighth grade I worked in the school library and me and the other library aide had this game where we would go around and name at least one book on every shelf that we had read. If we hadn't read any on a particular shelf, we would take it home and read it. We read a lot. She started reading these books her mom had, Barbara Cartland romances, and left our game behind. I tried these romances, but found they just were not for me. All dukes and counts and fancy dress and stolen hand holding was just not that appealing to me. I'd rather read things that seemed like they could actually happen.
As child, I was always free to leave the children's section and check out any book in the library. I was never restricted. At home, I read from the encyclopedia or from my mother's shelves or from the books my parents bought in sets more as decoration than as something to be read.
Books are powerful--so powerful that some people are afraid of them. !
Lynda Barry, a fabulous graphic artist who often draws and writes about teenagers characters, said to me, "If a kid made a book about their life, a lot of their parents wouldn't let them read it." Unfortunately, this is true.
|View form my writing room|
I know, that as humans, we need stories. And this is why I write.
I read and write whatever I want. And I hope that you will too!