Saturday, August 9, 2008

Born Free to Read

I grew up in a small town. I was able to ride my bike to the library downtown, which I did about once a week. We had one high school and we had one bookstore, which was really more of a news stand that had some books. My mother is a great reader and collector of books (auctions and garage sales were her bookstores) so we never had to buy a book for English class. We simply stepped into the stair well and got whatever classic was assigned in class. We were allowed to read anything in the house, no restrictions. This is why I attempted I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in the sixth grade. I don't think I finished it. I did love the little red hardcover biographies available in the school library. I think I read the whole series, I wish I could remember who the publisher was now. I hate history unless it's in biography form.

Imagine my excitement when I entered Jr. High School in 1974 and discovered The Scholastic BookClub! Do they still have that? Once a month, or so, we would get a four to six page hand-out of books we could order! Current books! I went crazy! It was a rare book that would escape by check mark. So while other kids were getting two, maybe three books from each circular, I was getting a dozen at a time! Never once did my parents question what I was getting or how much money it was costing them.

I read everything! Go Ask Alice, The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The Pigman, The Outsiders...books that are still read by school kids today. They were brand spanking new then. And then there was the book that got me in trouble in this small town school. It was the fault of an ancient study hall teacher and the cover:

I was sent directly to the vice principals office to be reported to my parents.

When the principal called my mother her response was simply that as long as I was in study hall I could read whatever I wanted. When he described the book cover to her and said I shouldn't read it in school Mom said, "She got it from your school, she can read it in your school." So there you go. And, because I don't like being told I can't do something without valid reason, even at that age, I went on to do an oral report in English class to the horror of yet another small town Jr High School teacher in 1974.


Jena said...

Woohoo! Way to go, you! So, how was the book? It looks like a potentially good read.

My husband says the nuns took away The Clockwork Orange when he was 13. (No wonder he has such horrible feelings associated with school.) I can't recall anything being taken away from me, although I did have a friend when I was in 6th grade whose grandmother thought the books she was reading were smutty romances (they were actually historical fiction) and took them all away from her.

NoBS said...

What's funny, is that I don't remember a lot about the book except that it was about a "house for wayward girls" and the main character insisted that even though she was pregnant, she never had sex.
I haven't even been able to remember the title until I suddenly remembered Shirley Jones was in the made-for-TV movie as the house mother. So I found the title on her website.

I wonder what your friend's grandmother thought of Jane Austin and the Brontes!