Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blog: Fiction is Important, Read, Read, Read!

Books That Changed My Life

The very first books that I remember reading were the Fun With Dick and Jane readers. I loved Dick and Jane, Spot the dog, Puff the cat, and the adorable Tim the teddy bear.

The earliest Dick and Jane books were illustrated by Eleanor Campbell and Keith Ward, but by the 50’s Robert Childress was the artist behind the cherub-like children and oh-so-good-looking adults. That’s Robert Childress of: Wonder Bread, Coca Cola, Duncan Hines and Campbell Soup fame. I read somewhere that his own wife and children were the models and inspiration for the Dick and Jane series.

I am a super-fast reader and able to comprehend what I read very well. A debate ensued, educators claimed that sight reading, (that’s what the Dick and Jane books were based on, repetition, repetition, repetition), was not as effective as phonics. No matter, I learned well enough!

My list of favorite books in grade school is pretty much predictable: E.B. White’s Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House Books, Pippy Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, just to name a few. But…I was into poetry as well. My favorite poem was Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allen Poe. And there was a book called The Summer Birds by Penelope Farmer that really blew me away.

Moving right along, every summer my sister and I would fly out of state to visit our father, (we were typical '60's children of divorce), and while he was at work and we were bored out of our gourds, she’d watch TV and I’d read his paperbacks. So, at the ripe old age of twelve I spent the long hot summer reading Leon Uris, James Michener, and Harold Robbins, (quite racy stuff, those Robbins novels—good thing Mom was so many miles away and did not know I was reading what she would have called smut!)

I remember many books from high school, most notably: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman, Brave New World by Auldous Huxley, Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger, East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I got into reading plays too, and fell in love with the heartbreaking Come Back Little Sheba by William Ing.

I won’t get into listing books that I’ve read as an adult, as they are numerous.

Why does a book resonate with one person but not another? Browsing through reviews of some of my favorite books on Amazon I am always appalled when others don’t agree with me. You mean you didn’t laugh your butt off at David Sedaris, or marvel at Anne Tyler’s prose, or appreciate the short stories of the great Alice Munro? What the heck’s the matter with you people?

Anyway, it seems important to point out that my baby boomer generation grew up reading. I have tried to teach my children about the importance of the written word, and I believe that they will read out loud to their children and impart a reverence for books and authors.
Happy reading everyone!
Here’s a copy of Annabelle Lee, enjoy.

Edgar Allan Poe - Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;--
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and my Annabel Lee--
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud by night
Chilling my Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me:--
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of a cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we--
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in Heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:--

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea--
In her tomb by the side of the sea.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.
No copyright expressed or implied for the works of Edgar Allan Poe

1 comment:

PopArtDiva said...

I don't remember any of the books I had as a kid,but I do remember reading Catcher In The Rye when I was around ten, mostly I remember loving Holden's odd Sherlock Holmes hat fetish and his sister's name because Phoebe seemed so exotic to me, lol. Plus I was fascinated by his constant use of the word "phony".

I've loved reading my whole life. I'm really excited about all the new reading methods too; e-books, Kindles, etc. I've been downloading and reading books on my cell phones and PDAs for ages. Nothing better than something to read if you're stuck waiting for someone or something!