Monday, August 20, 2007

Banned in Boston..

The exotic and articulate princess banter recently wrote on her blog about her love of books.I highly recommend taking a moment to stop by her house to check it out.
Her post got me thinking about my parent's view on the subject of appropriate reading material,and I left a comment on that very subject.

My father was a pretty stern man.Oldest son of a German immigrant,he had little time for things he considered to be "nonsense".
He had rules governing just about everything that was expected from my siblings and I,and it generally never occurred to any us to try and circumvent those standards through either reason or plea.
So,his attitude toward our choice of reading material always seemed a little odd to me.

"Read whatever you want"..

This was the whole of his verbal opinion on the subject.
He said what he meant,and meant what he said.
That's not to say he didn't put his hand to his brow,and roll his eyes whenever he would see me reading the latest issue of Superman,or my beloved Mad Magazine,but not once,not ever,did he forbid me the luxury.

..Turns out,I was a voracious reader.

I read Tropic of Cancer about the same time I longed to be just like Sherlock Holmes.
Seems to me, I devoured Valley of the Dolls long about the same time the rhythm and rhyme of Julius Caesar left me thoroughly enamored of the beauty of the English language.
The Bible..Chariots of the Gods?..The friggin Encyclopedia Brittanica!..I probably garnered as much information from cereal boxes,as I did from Mark Twain,or O.Henry.

So many ideas,so little time.

I guess this is about the time I would normally try to drive home some salient point.
But I have none.
I didn't grow up to be President..Hell,I didn't even adhere all that well to the generally accepted standards of behavior that most people assume as a matter of course.
And I'm aware that in this day and age,access to some pretty vile verbiage is only a mouse click away...


At 6:19 PM , Blogger cs said...

I will come back to read this post later, but first you are now officially MEME'd. PLease go to my blog for rules...or Rosemary's. She got me.

Back soon...peace!

At 6:24 PM , Blogger Sling said...

oh great..I mean,..Oh,Great!

At 7:55 PM , Blogger rosemary said...

I would have lived in the Library as a kid if I could. The Librarian was the book Nazi...she told my mother everything I touched....then I got busted by my History teacher in high school reading Lady Chatterly's Lover. Never stopped me from reading banned stuff.

At 8:02 PM , Blogger Lex Lata said...

"When I have money, I buy books. If any is left over, I buy food and clothes." --Erasmus

At 8:27 PM , Blogger jan said...

I can remember "social experts" in the 60's and 70's saying that reading would not be necessary in the future because people would only need TV and radio etc. to keep them informed. Books were supposed to be obsolete.

That is also when they said that men wouldn't have to know how to type because they would have secretaries.

At 8:32 PM , Blogger Sling said...

rosemary-Book Nazi..You know,I think that my dad probably would have called them the same thing.

lex-You have crystallized my thoughts eloquenty!..Thank you.

At 8:37 PM , Blogger Sling said...

jan-Happily,it seems clear that the so called "experts" were woefully mistaken about books.
I'm not sure I'm ready to dismiss the whole "secretary" thing however... ;)

At 9:34 PM , Blogger yellowdog granny said...

when i was a kid i read EVERYTHING and still do..remember reading atlas shrugged and all of the h.allen smith books, the sci-fi tarzan books,when i was about 9 years old..the librarian at kelly homes used to brag on what i read..and that was when i was 708 years old..when we moved back to kelly when i was 15..she remembered me..called me by name when i walked in the door..freaked me out..who knew she would still be there...

At 10:48 PM , Blogger Auld Hat said...

Growing up in the Utah public school system meant that everything was banned. It wasn't until my Junior year when a very sneaky A.P. English teacher/varsity football coach handed out a copy of Of Mice & Men, that I even knew that a book could put a man in jail. I love that he risked that for us. He said, "This book will be the first thing a lot of you will have ever read that doesn't insult your intelligence" or something like that. Good guy. Horrible coach...
By the way, Steinbeck is still banned in Utah. As is the Quran.

At 5:30 AM , Blogger Doralong said...

I remember at about 9 my mother had to go to the library and have a discussion with the head librarian in order for me to be allowed to check out books from the adult section. They had some peculiar rule regarding this and even had different cards for the children and the adults. Very strange indeed.

Much like you, the parents never stopped me from reading whatever I wished. While obviously I didn't grow up to be president either, and my standards of behavior have been suspect more than once too buddy. But at least I was allowed to think for myself. This would be the entire reason my two heathens read whatever strikes their fancy. My Daddy always said if someone decided to ban a book, it was because it contained an idea that scared them..

At 6:03 AM , Blogger Sling said...

Sure does sound like we've all had people in our lives of an enlightened nature!..Something to be grateful for.
I've written before about my 6th grade teacher,Mrs. Willoughby.She would go the the public library and bring me books that we didn't have in our school.
Mostly biographies,and histories.It was she that gave me "Animal Farm" to read.I won't forget her.

At 6:53 AM , Blogger Citymouse said...

my kids read all the time, so much i have to tell them to stop and go outside~

I think it is a good thing, and now my soon to be 14 yr old son is readind some of my favorites
catcher in the rye, animal farm, of mice and men, contact....ya it's cool! Oh, and he does read mad to spite the fact that he has no idea about pop culture

At 7:08 AM , Blogger Serena Joy said...

My mother tried hard to censor my reading material, but I was a pretty smart kid. I learned young how to hide my contraband books. By the time I was 16, I'd read Miller, Joyce, Salinger, Faulkner, Williams, and ... D.H. Lawrence. And my mother never had a coronary, so it worked out pretty well.:)

At 7:12 AM , Blogger cs said...

I grew up southern, east coast...Virginia, and we loved going to our school library. It had a musty wood smell with the cabinets all lined in perfect rows. I learned the card catalog system (Duey sp?) and still prefer that today ha ha. I can remember way way back sitting in the grocery cart and while Mom pushed the cart along, I looked longingly at the boxes and labels and proclaimed to her sadly, "Mom! When am I going to learn how to read?" I was scared because I was going into pre-K which was run by the nuns. (They had to tie me to the chair with my blanky. I was a terror.) I wanted to read so bad. Her reply was, "You will. It will just happen, you'll see." I was 3 at the time. I remember that so distinctly. Now I can't remember doo-doo!

At 8:37 AM , Blogger the rube said...

just as you listen to a good album many times, a good book can be read many times. with a good book i can wait in a parking lot for hours without becoming bored when picking up the fast food princess from her slave wage pizza job.

nothing develops a kid's imagination like reading.

At 9:19 AM , Blogger booda baby said...

Thank god, you missed being President and got busy being Sling. You obviously got a diet rich in ... rich things.

At 4:54 PM , Blogger Sling said...

citymouse-My parents signed me up for little League baseball because they wanted me to spend some time away from books.I loved it,and even played a year of Pony League ball.

serena joy-You bring up apoint that I think is very important.
I really do understand the need for parents to monitor what their children are reading.In my day,there simply was not the proliferation of porno/hate literature that there is today.Still,I did run across examples of that kind of thing as a kid,and decided it was garbage.
How's that for waffling on my position?..;)

cs-When I was four,I came down with some chilhood disease or other,and my mom kept me occupied with a phonics book.It all made perfect sense to me,and I could sound out just about anything by the time I was 5..I remember that.

The rube-The parking lot thing is a good example.
Passing the time in your cell is another...Reading gets extra bonus points for sparking the imagination of a child.

booda baby-I don't mind missing my shot at being president,but I really did want to be Captain of the Starship Enterprise.

At 4:55 PM , Blogger Mom said...

While cleaning out her grandmother in law's attic my daughter found an old Bible that she asked to keep. No one else wanted it. When she brought it home she showed me the reason she wanted that Bible. tucked into its dusty pages was a rather steamy romance novel. I love picturing this lady so piously reading that book.

At 5:05 PM , Blogger Sling said...

mom-I LOVE IT!...Yes..I truly do.

At 8:03 PM , Blogger cs said...

So there you go Sling. That explains it all now. :)

At 9:01 PM , Blogger Monica said...

when i was a kid, my mother would insist that we always have a book in our hands in her presence. this included while we were watching tv. she got a phone call from one of my teachers about the "adult literature" i was "caught" with, her response was "at least she's not one of those dumb kids who can't read." touche

At 9:08 PM , Blogger Sling said...


monica-Mom rocks!

At 9:24 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I was motivated to read at the tender of age of 5 because I wanted to read an illustrated "Old Possom's Book of Practical Cats" by TS Eliot to myself. Because Dame Judi didn't always have time to drop everything and read it to me.

That's all.

At 9:32 PM , Blogger Sling said...

lorraine-Well that's certainly enough.
The first book I read by myself was I can fly..Turns out,.I couldn't.

At 10:57 PM , Blogger more cowbell said...

The library! We went constantly when I was a kid, and constantly when my kids were little. I did the read-aloud thing w/ my kids for years. I'm convinced it's why we were all such early readers, 3 and 4 yrs old. (The son was 5/6, but he was juggling Hungarian/English, poor kid) I was the kid reading on teh playground. I was addicted to books. My parents only censored for the fear factor. I snuck The Amityville Horror from my mom's room -- scared the shit out of me! I still remember how terrified I'd be at night, imagining Jody the pig's red glowing eyes...

At 10:51 AM , Blogger CS said...

My parents were avid readers and never censored our reading, except to insist that we turn out the lights when it got to late. So I read by the light coming in under the crack of the door from the hallway, or with a flashlight under the covers, and once with a blanket draped over the lamp until it caught on fire and melted the lamp. Now when my kids want to read, I let them just stay up and read.

At 4:11 PM , Blogger Sling said...

CS-Probably a wise decision.That way,you can avoid those tragic reading accidents.

At 11:20 AM , Blogger apositivepessimist said...

Used to swipe the kid up the roads Mad magazine…after he’d finished reading it, that is.

Ou ou I loved valley of the dolls…I still have my 2nd hand copy of it.

I could go from a jackie susann[?] to enid blyton in three hours flat. I even started to read the bible once, was waiting for my friends sister who was dancing in the hotel bar downstairs.

At 12:39 PM , Blogger gina said...

My mom was a voracious reader. As a result, we had one helluva library in our home (over 3,000 tomes), as well as the Encyclopedia Britannica, which she claimed she bought for us (I was in 7th grade), but which she read, literally, from cover to cover, making margin notes as she went along. I inherited her love of reading. She read mostly non-fiction by that time, while I read mostly fiction. She encouraged me to read everything - from "The Carpetbaggers" to Hemingway, from "Tropic of Cancer" to "Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine". My siblings still complain that I was always in my room reading when they were outside playing. When I think of Mom, it's with a book in one hand, a cigarette burning in the ashtray next to her, and her other hand twirling her hair (a nervous habit she always had). She read "Valley of the Dolls", then gave it to me to read. She was awesome. Library cards were our favorite place in every city we lived in. And yeah, I read with a flashlight under the covers night after night, devouring book after book. I love my mom for making me love reading. It makes me sad that I have so little time these days. And like you Sling, I read everything from cereal boxes to Hemingway, and learned a ton from both. I still can't just stand in the kitchen cooking - I have to be reading something - package labels, the newspaper, a book, something.

At 7:55 PM , Blogger Sling said...

Apos-I was hooked on Mad Magazine.I know that my earliest conception of satire stems from it.

gina-I think I may be your evil twin.
Picking a volume of the encyclopedia,and reading it for enjoyment was a favorite past time.
Also,any Audobon Society reference guide was a treasure!

At 2:15 AM , Blogger Middle Child said...

Hey Sling at 53, I am of the opinion that most times "self educated" is best educated... self education is like the education we used to have befoew they made it so that you were channelled while still in school into certain areas for career...and once in that stream the education was establishment driven, corporate driven and if you were bright enough to emerge without blinkers permanently stuck to the outsides of your eyes, you were that rare academic who tossed over the establishment and died poor as a result, and really pets its the cash most of them are into even if they sasy they aren't .

Goood reading Sling...keep doing it okay

At 3:14 AM , Blogger Lawfrog said...

In third grade, I remember being terribly upset because I wasn't in the advanced reading group in my class. I loved to read and didn't understand why I couldn't be in that group. One day, I came into the classroom and on my desk were the books for the advanced reading group. It was a good day!

I always excelled in reading and writing. I became a journalist, then a lawyer, and now am studying for my M.A. degree. I am not President of the United States (nor do I want to be), but I know for a fact that reading has helped me in so many ways in my life...not just academically, but spiritually and emotionally as well. Books were, and still are, a great escape from the stress of life.

Sorry this is getting long, but I just have to add this: THANK GOD for enlightened parents. My mother encouraged my reading and had the same talk with the librarian that some of the other commenters' parents had about checking out books from the adult section.

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