14 Things About Me and Books

Inspired by Steve Lawson’s post, which was in turn inspired by John Scalzi’s post:

  1. When I was in elementary school, I read a book called There’s a Rainbow In My Closet that made me want to paint, and paint, and paint. I checked it out of the library a bazillion times, and read it many more times than that. The library I checked it out of, still has it. It’s out of print, and used copies are running in the $250 range, or else I’d have bought myself a copy.
  2. My first library job was in the Preservation Department of Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library in the summer of 1993. I was working on a project to survey the condition of the books in the stacks (as part of a campaign to advocate for — wait for it — air-conditioning in the stack tower). We did brittleness and other tests on long runs of serials including volumes of The Gentleman’s Magazine that went back to the 18th century. And were sitting there in un-airconditioned stacks. OMGWTFBBQ.
  3. When I was three, a friend of the family gave me a copy of The Dot and the Line, by Norton Juster. I still have it, and read it to James on occasion. My mom swears that I actually got the joke of “he found himself completely on edge” at the age of three.
  4. I do not remember the first book I could read. (Though I do remember being able to read a traffic sign that said, “NO TURN ON RED.”) I really don’t remember not being able to read.
  5. In first grade, we worked through some progressive readers of some sort at our own pace, and at the end of the year I made a point of remembering which reader I had just completed, and actively maintained that memory through the whole summer, so that when I came back in the fall I could pick up where I left off.
  6. I really despise “gift books,” those little useless tomes that bookstores keep by the cash register so you can buy a cute book of cat quotes for your friend who likes cats, or whatever. They’re usually awful books, and I never know what to do with them when people give them to me. Which they seem to do with alarming frequency.
  7. I don’t have memories of my parents reading to me, though surely they did.  We didn’t read chapter books aloud as bedtime stories or any of that, at least not that I can remember, possibly because by the time I was mature enough for chapter books, I was reading them myself.
  8. I am NOT an audiobook person. Not not not not not. Partly because I cannot fathom when I’d have time to listen to an audiobook, but mostly because I want reading to be a self-directed activity: at my own pace, with the freedom to go back and re-read a sentence, check a reference, etc.  However, having said that…
  9. Before our son was born, my husband would read aloud to me on long car trips.  That was okay because I could interrupt him to ask a question, make him go back, etc. Our favorites were P. G. Wodehouse (Leave it to Psmith) and Harry Potter books. He does a wicked Hagrid accent.  It’s possible that we’ll get back to reading aloud once James is of an age to appreciate it (and pay attention to books without pictures).
  10. My third library job was in the undergraduate library at Yale, where among other things I sorted and shelved books.  Since it was a small, compact collection, I eventually covered the entire LC classification system, and pretty much learned at least the initial letters, as well as some of the second letters (PQ vs PR vs PS vs PZ, for instance) long before I started library school.
  11. The first author-signed book I owned was a copy of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, which I picked up at the greatest used bookstore in the universe (now defunct), and it’s inscribed to the Oberlin College Science Fiction Society.
  12. Also at that used bookstore, I picked up a copy of The Book of Laughter and Forgetting that was inscribed by a friend of mine to his ex-girlfriend. I’ve never told either of them that I have it. Heh.
  13. The best used bookstore in the universe was Miranda Books, in Oberlin, Ohio.  I won’t hear objections to this.
  14. The band director at Yale once gave me a set of the 1961 edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians that was missing the first volume (A-B).  Not that there are any important composers whose names begin with A or B.  Some years later, I told this story to the music librarian at UNC-Chapel Hill, and he promptly marched me back to the room that contained their unprocessed gifts, and plucked one (of several) first volumes off the shelf and gave it to me.  He also tossed in a Liber usualis for good measure.

Sorry, I really couldn’t come up with a fifteenth!

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