Jamie over at the excellent food blog, Life’s a Feast, bestowed upon me the Joy of Reading Award.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never been rewarded for reading other than good grades for English skills.
It’s a good day to be me.
Two books, in particular, served as the gateway drug provoking my addiction. The first was Francina Morey’s The Bears of Log Cabin Village which nobody other than me has ever heard of. The other was Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy which is still being read by younguns.
Morey’s book is about several families of bears living in a community of log cabins. For years I thought the book was lost and mourned its absence. I prowled used book stores looking for it only to have it appear in my mother’s attic a few years ago.
I’m delighted to have it, but have resisted re-reading. I’m afraid it might not be as wonderful as my memory and the memory is a cherished one.
I can’t remember exactly when I first read The Bears of Log Cabin Village, but it spurred the addiction. My mother used to go to the Honolulu Goodwill and buy me grocery bags of books to feed my habit. I was never without a book. When packing for anything, the first thing selected was a book. I read in the car. I read in bed. I read during math class. I read at doctor’s offices and church, on the bus and in the bathtub.
I had a thyroid disorder when I was very young which made me hyperactive. I’d read while rolling around the living room floor. The disorder was rare in a child my age and severe enough that the doctors were amazed that I could concentrate long enough to do anything at all much less track the plot of a book. I think this is one of the reasons Harriet the Spy rocked my world. The book was published in 1964 and I probably got my hands on it in 1968 or ’69.
Harriet was roughly my age and different from her peers. In the course of the story, her difference lands her in trouble and in a doctor’s office. While it’s stretching things to represent my problems as a young girl as parallel to Harriet’s, the over-riding theme of Fitzhugh’s book is that it’s okay to be different, but don’t let your difference make you unkind. It’s interesting that Harriet the Spy landed on banned book lists primarily because it, supposedly, encouraged children to question authority and the status quo. It’s even more interesting to note that the author, Louise Fitzhugh, was a lesbian.
The Joy of Reading Award comes with rules.
I’m supposed to:
1. Collect the book that you have most handy
2. Turn to page 161
3. Find the 5th complete sentence
4. Cite the sentence on your blog
5. Pass it on to 5 other bloggers
It is with some trepidation that I grab the first book that it is most handy.
I’m currently reading Li Yu’s The Carnal Prayer Mat. This book is a classic piece of Chinese erotica published in the mid-1600s. I’m not far enough into it yet to know if it’s a read I’d recommend.
On page 161, the fifth complete sentence is:
At first they made out they knew nothing, but at length, under the pressure of his questioning, they took pity on him as an honest man about to die at the hands of an adulterous wife and felt obliged to respond.
[Whew! Dodged a bullet there – no mention of genitalia or descriptions of orgasm.]
The other book (sitting under Li Yu’s) is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. This book is hailed as a masterpiece and I agree. The author began writing it in 1928 in Moscow. While not as powerful as Murakami’s Wind Up Bird Chronicles, it shares some similarities. The required sentence is even more boring than Li Yu’s, so I won’t bother to type it out.
To round things out, my hardback version of Harriet the Spy (sentences 3 through 6) reads:
Harriet rolled round and round the room. It wasn’t bad at all this being an onion. She bumped into her father, who started to laugh. She couldn’t keep her face screwed up and laughed at him.
Though the thyroid disorder re-appeared a decade or so ago(this time in the guise of an underactive one), I no longer need to roll around the floor when I read. Pity that. As a child, reading was a complete experience uniting body and mind.
Not having ever been much of one for rules (and we have Harriet to thank for that), I am not naming 5 other bloggers to pass this award to. If you want it, grab it. I’m always interested in what other people are reading and what books provoked their love of reading. There are several bloggers I read (and who read me) that I’m particularly interested in knowing their reading habits. If they can be troubled to get their noses out of a book and accept the award, I’d be tickled.