Friday, July 16, 2010

An Inherited Oddity?

"Newland never seems to look ahead," Mrs. Welland once ventured to complain to her daughter, and May answered serenely: "No; but you see it doesn't matter, because when there's nothing particular to do he reads a book."
"Ah, yes -- like his father!" Mrs. Welland agreed, as if allowing for an inherited oddity; and after that the question of Newland's unemployment was tacitly dropped.
-- From Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, ch.XXII --

The above passage gave me paws, which is to say, made me stop and think.
[And scratch the couch].
But seriously, it occurred in the book I am now reading.
I stopped to realize something.
I am like this Newland character in many ways. Except that I prefer to read a book even when there IS a particular other thing to do. I always want to read!
The existence of this very blog is to provide a forum where I can speak publicly about my two main addictions --> Books and hamburger.
So, no truer words could be said of me, than the first part of the above quotation in Wharton. However, the second part is utterly foreign to my experience.
My parents were not readers. In my mother's later years she took up reading -- largely due to my own encouragement…. but my father?
No.
I am not 100% sure, but I think it would be quite safe to say that he never read a book in the entirety of his lifetime. I always love to imagine that he did perhaps read a book -- maybe it is just that no one else knew about it.
Whereas, seemingly from birth, I loved to read. I loved words.
My own propensity towards the written page is a mystery to me -- certainly not "an inherited oddity."
I know not the true origin of my precocious love of words!

And so I ask the question to my own beloved Blog-readers:
Do you feel that your parents influenced you toward your love of books?
Were your parents, either one of them, avid readers? Examples of why bookshelves were invented?

I must add one more thing -- my parents were great parents.
They are no longer alive, and hence cannot defend themselves regarding my comments above. So I want to mention a few things I am very thankful for.
First, my mother read to us at bedtime. It is such a sweet memory to me. She mostly read us Bible stories, and for this I am infinitely grateful to her.
Secondly, my father got us The World Book Encyclopedia, which my younger sister and I literally devoured!
And thirdly, neither one of them discouraged my attempts at borrowing every single book from The Regent Park Library on Sherwood Drive!

*******

7 comments:

Isabella said...

My parents, NOT readers. They were, however, great enablers wrt my Nancy Drew addiction.

The one possession of my father's (long dead) I have is an old volume of Marx, in Polish. But I never saw him read anything other than Time magazine.

My mother last year took up Anna Karenina! I'll be checking on her progress next week.

Alyce said...

My parents are not readers at all. They tolerated my reading obsession to a point and then my dad would bang on my window and tell me to get out and get some fresh air. And yes, there were times I got in trouble for reading too much (staying up all night to read series).

My mom was adopted, so I always assumed that I got it from her side. We met some of her birth relatives recently - all college graduates and readers. Not only that but my uncle on that side went to the same college I did and minored in the subject I majored in (Linguistics - it's a tiny department too - usually has about 15 people a year who get degrees in it). So I'm pretty sure I got it from that side of the family - must be genetic!

D.B. said...

My mother read to me every night and then picked up a book of her own. I remember the family in the den watching t.v. together and my dad reading a book. I lived at the library, used to fake being sick so I could stay in bed all day and read. Years ago I told the employees of Barnes and Noble, "You give me coffee, books and music. If you ever start selling chocolate, I'm bringing a quilt and moving it." Next thing I know, Godiva chocolate is on the scene. Not that I had anything to do with it but if I didn't have a family, I would definitely have moved in!

Jeane said...

My parents definitely influenced my love of books. I was read to every night as a child, and both my parents had treasured books in the home.

Stefanie said...

My dad is not a reader. My Mom had a box full of Halequin romances she kept under the bed when I was a kid and now she has moved on to popular mysteries which she doesn't hide under the bed. I wouldn't call her an avid reader though. Nonetheless, both she and my dad encouraged me to read, read to me whenever I asked, bought me books and took me to the library. So, yeah, my parents did influence me toward a love of books.

Erin in Boston said...

My mom died when I was seven, so I don't know if she read, but my dad enjoyed reading. He had a couple of loved books on his shelf, but usually passed them on. He always indulged me when I asked to go to the book store or library. He wished I read more classics and less popular fiction though.

Wanderer said...

My dad, a construction worker with relatively low reading and writing ability (I suspect he had an undiagnosed learning disorder) always read to my brothers and me. He often read Bible stories and Aesop's fables. When I went to school, I learned that I pronounced quite a few words wrong - because I heard my dad mispronounce them. I am, however, eternally grateful for the gift he gave me. In spite of his struggles, he gave me the gift of reading. Like one of the other commenters said, my parents would tell me to "get outside and blow the stink off." I took my dad's hammer and some nails, then took some fabric from my mom,and fashioned a seat in the crotch of a tree...so I could sit outside and read. I am never without a book. If I get stuck somewhere - a train, a doctor's office, etc. - I always want to be able to use that time to read.