Between The Sheets: Learning To Read


I started reading at a very early age and never lost my love for reading. Mom joined a Dr. Suess Book Club, so I remember learning to read from "The Cat In The Hat." The next step was McKinley Elementary School where I was formally taught. I barely missed out on the fast track section and was placed in the average section. By second grade we were introduced to the school library. At the time my fellow students were interested in prehistoric animals, I was interested in Astronomy. The library at the time wouldn't let me check out the books I wanted. She thought they'd be too difficult for me. So, I waited until the student librarian took over to check these difficult books out. I don't remember having any difficulty with them. Once mom made a comment about reading all the time, or going out to play, but dad was proud, "If he wants to read, let him." As the grades progressed I moved further down the shelf. McKinley had a set of blue biographies. I must have read at least 20 of them. I remember US Grant and Thomas Edison. Besides reading I also loved getting books. I would save my hard earned money (allowance) for my carefully selected Scholastic School Book order. The wait seemed endless, then the day would arrive, the little stack of books would show up. Surprisingly, I ordered quite a few sport books. I can still smell the covers.

Astronomy led to Science Fiction. This has been a life long passion. I started reading Asimov and Clarke- the superstars of Science Fiction. Blaine and I were playing Tarzan and reading the comics. One day mom took me along to one of her meetings. She allowed me to buy a book to read. I picked up an abridged version of "Tarzan" (for youth). I was truly engrossed. I couldn't wait to tell Blaine. There were so many Edgar Rice Burroughs books, they kept me busy for years. I didn't start "The Princess Of Mars" Series until 1976.

At Ben Franklin Junior High I started reading the romantics during my study hall in the library. Shelley's "Frankenstein" (4/18/73) and Victor Hugo (5/8/73) introduced more adult concepts. It was about that time I started reading the adult non-fiction which dad and mom had hid behind their other books. "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask" was helpful. I was also interested in aerial warfare. I joined the Military Book Club and read of bomber pilots and WWII aces.

When we moved to the south-side I read "Stranger In A Strange Land"- I felt that way after moving away from my friends. I stayed withdrawn and read science fiction from the library. Bob read "Logan's Run" before the movie came out. I read it afterward and it became a fetish book for me. I was smitten with Jenny Agutter and allowed myself to be Logan. (11/27/77) Around this same time I came up with a theory: Any huge book had to be great or else it wouldn't be published. I went to B. Dalton and found Samuel R. Delany's "Dhalgren". I didn't know of Delany, so it was a perfect test. I think it was the dead of winter, I had nothing to do, so I started reading. I read some of it at my desk in my bedroom. I remember how boring/ difficult the beginning was. I wanted to quit but I wanted to prove my theory. The first two hundred pages were impossible, but then it started to get good. Soon I was sucked in. I didn't care about anything else but going home, opening the book and walking the streets of Bellona. At this time I joined the Science Fiction Book Club and loaded up Fantasy books. I burned out of Science Fiction by the time I graduated from College. Then I got a Library card for MSU. I started reading Philosophy and Science. Looking at a big reading year like 1991-92 you see I discovered Rand, Kerouac and Nabokov.

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