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Happy Friday, readers and book lovers, and welcome to, ah, yet another open forum. On this sultry late-summer morning--described by one's Cockney-born husband as "'ot, 'umid, and 'orrible"--there can be only one choice for breakfast: chilled fruit salad. This delightful melange of blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and mango will be accompanied by hearty cups of cappuccino delicioso to get our blood moving. We'll need it, too, because after our repast we'll have to cudgel our brains to contribute to today's topic.

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Today's topic, as the title suggests, is "What is the most difficult or daring book you read as a child?" For this discussion, "child" will be defined as a person less than 18 years old. Many of our regular visitors here read books far beyond their perceived range as children. Which books? Were there any the school librarian forbade you to check out, saying sternly that only those in higher grades were supposed to read them? What an insult to an intelligent young person! That remark was certainly made to me.

Luckily for me, my father was untroubled by such dainty considerations. He let me read Jane Eyre at age eight, Wuthering Heights at age nine, and from there I simply charged ahead like a runaway train. When I was sixteen, for some reason known only to Goddess, I took it into my head to read Sir Arthur Compton-Rickett's History of English Literature, a copy of which, naturally, was in my father's collection of books.
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Already a lover of both history and literature, I found the book fascinating. I was charmed by the history of the development of the English language as described by the author. As I progressed through the book, I read about Ben Jonson, described by Compton-Rickett as the "first of the literary kings," and about Samuel Johnson, the "last of the literary kings." My father told me amusing stories about the latter. He said that one night Johnson was seated next to a lady at a dinner party. She turned up her nose and said, "I don't like that man. He smells." "Madam," Johnson roared, "I do not smell. I stink!" Compton-Rickett was rather more restrained in his anecdotes, remarking that on "clean shirt day," which happened twice a week, Johnson and Boswell disposed of most of their social calls.

Invited by our English teacher, Sister Mary Donna, to tell our classmates what we were currently reading, I leaped up and began describing the History. Sister Mary Donna looked dumbfounded; the girls in the class simply looked stupefied.

I was so enthralled with the book that after I finished reading it, my father gave me Lafcadio Hearn's wonderful history of English literature. "He taught English literature on the college level in Japan," my father told me, "and his students were so thrilled with his lectures they transcribed them. Hence, this book." After that I devoured Taine's History of English Literature, but it didn't charm me nearly as much as the first two.

But enough about me. What did YOU read? Did you need a dictionary to get through it? Did your classmates make fun of you for essaying it? Was your teacher shocked, dumbfounded, distressed, or glowing with self-congratulation that one of her students had read something so difficult? Tell us about it!

Poll

Should children be encouraged to read books beyond their grade level?

91%61 votes
0%0 votes
8%6 votes

| 67 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Should children be encouraged to read beyond? (12+ / 0-)

    Hitch your wagon to a star.

    (also recently mentioned here by me as the first book I ever stayed up all night to finish, although I dreamed an ending and so had the pleasure of finishing it again the next night.)

    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

    by nuclear winter solstice on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 05:10:03 AM PDT

  •  In fifth grade we did a reading test (11+ / 0-)

    to determine what grade level we were reading on. I was already reading at "12 +". And while I read some 'on grade level' books that interested me (Caddie Woodlawn comes to mind), most of what I was reading was things my parents were reading. Stephen King, Tolkein, Asimov, these authors became my literary friends very quickly.

    As to difficult or daring books, I think Lord of the Flies was the worst for me. It was a book that literally made me sick to my stomach and I barely got through it (and if it hadn't been required for a class I wouldn't have finished it). I haven't been able to read books in a similar vein since. I wish I'd been able to wait until I was an adult to read it. I've passed on a lot of books other people suggest to me because of my experience with that one book. Another 'difficult book' was Flowers in the Attic. I still won't eat powdered donuts or cookies. But there were many things that were disturbing about that series. It's not one I'd suggest to my daughter, that's for certain.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 05:21:40 AM PDT

  •  Book lovers, my attendance will be sporadic (8+ / 0-)

    this morning, but I will respond to comments when I get breaks from baby care. In the meantime, eat and drink heartily and please continue the discussion.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 05:28:36 AM PDT

  •  On age-appropriate reading (11+ / 0-)

    Our county library had a Bookmobile that would travel around so people could get books without having to travel. Still does actually. Always thought it was a great idea.

    When it rolled to my neighborhood one day, I tried to check out Star Wars. I was probably 7 at the time and could read at a very high level. The librarian insisted that I couldn't because of whatever reason. Think she said it was too violent or some nonsense. I had to run home and get my dad to write a note insisting that I could get any book I damned well pleased with his blessing and that I could probably read it better than she could.

    I learned that night that while George Lucas may be a great director, he's a really bad writer. I may try reading it again but I'm sure it hasn't aged well.

    I was reading Stephen King by 8, as you do. Firestarter was a favorite because I have a huge crush on Drew Barrymore. That was a hard read for me back then because the book was way more intense than the movie. This inbetween Encyclopedia Brown and Charlotte's Web.

    I also remember reading his collection Different Seasons for the first time around that time. That has The Body(Stand By Me) and Apt Pupil in it. Both a bit cracked for a young mind but I loved it. I've re-read The Body several times in my life, thought the ending of the story was way better than the movie.

    "I chose to change facts, reality, and the meaning of words, in order to make a much larger point." - Paul Ryan John Oliver

    by SC Lib on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 05:47:02 AM PDT

    •  Enjoyed your comment, SC Lib (8+ / 0-)

      Thanks! The bookmobile saved me from a yawning pit of boredom in the very early 70s, before I learned how to drive. By that time no one was giving me advice on what to read, though. Glad to hear you stood on your principles.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 06:41:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  i loved different seasons as a kid... (0+ / 0-)

      like the bachman books, i think the shorter format really helped king.  these books and skeleton crew short stories are his best work imho... lol

      the body (stand by me) also had a slightly different ending...   the movie (which is one of my all time favorites) ends with the gang returning home, but the book goes further and describes how ace does go own to exact revenge for the defiance shown at the body.

      my favorite scene at the end is when wil wheaton is staring down the bully keiffer southerland with a gun brought by one of the other kids;

      what are you going to do kid, shoot us all?

      no ace.  just you.

      If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

      by No Exit on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:06:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Selected writings of the Marquis de Sade, with the (10+ / 0-)

    'good parts' in French (which I could read in 8th grade)...

    Lost Tom. Lost Charlie. Can't read (Paul Newman, 'The Left Handed Gun')

    by richardvjohnson on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 05:50:48 AM PDT

  •  When I was in........... (11+ / 0-)

    the 5th grade we had a self-paced reading development program. I maxed it out midway through the year reading at the level of a 10th to 11th grader. I satisfied myself with books available in the libraries of my grade school and bookmobile and up into high school but read newspapers and every magazine I could get my hands on.

    The first real "above my age' book I remember was when I was 15. I visited an aunt and uncle for a couple of weeks that summer and found a copy of Joseph Heller's "Catch 22." I read it in two days and then read it again. My aunt gave it to me to take home and I read it one more time that winter.

    Now over 50 years later my reading still gravitates toward dark humor.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 05:51:21 AM PDT

    •  LOL, cazee! (9+ / 0-)

      You appear to have read voraciously from an early age. Y'know, as some writer or other pointed out, a well-stocked mind is an endless source of amusement. In a novel one of the characters, passing down a London street in a taxi, espied a hat shop that bore the name, "Elizabeth Collins." That set her to wondering what would have happened if Elizabeth Bennet had swallowed her pride after all and married Mr. Collins.

      The speculations mitigated a very unpleasant interview with her banker. :)

      Catch-22 was something else, wasn't it? Still remember how it made my head spin.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 06:47:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think the most daring books were (12+ / 0-)

    Virgil's Aeneid and the poems of Sappho. I read those when I was about 15.  That was when censorship reigned supreme, and was not seriously tested until the case of Lady Chatterly's Lover. I was in college at the time.  An expurgated version had been available in the US, but customs would seize any unexpurgated versions people would try to bring back from Europe.

    Of course, I read both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn at the age of 9, when I was in the 4th grade.  I think I was about 14 when I read Moll Flanders.

    I think kids should definitely be challenged.  I was at Barnes & Noble with my granddaughter (Burns Lass) one afternoon. She was fifteen and in the 10th grade. She asked if I would buy her a book. Told her of course I would. She shyly asked if I had heard of a writer named Frederich Nietzsche. She wanted Beyond Good and Evil.  Hmmm. Every fifteen year old high school girl wants to read 19th Century German philosophers, right?

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 05:58:46 AM PDT

  •  The Exorcist I was probably about 10. Mom forbi... (9+ / 0-)

    The Exorcist

    I was probably about 10. Mom forbid the movie and I used the loophole rule that we were allowed to read anything. Don't think I finished the book...scared the hell out of me. A short time later I did the same thing with the Godfather books...loved them. Few years later someone remarked that there was too much sex in them for a child my age to read...and I remember being totally flummoxed that I had somehow missed all the good parts. Was going to reread them but then I found a box of my dads old Ian Fleming books....

  •  Great topic (15+ / 0-)

    I was always the kid who far preferred staying in their bedroom with a book above all other activities - I had to be evicted by my mother from my literary terrarium for a few hours every day in order to "get some fresh air and sunshine" and ward off the incipient case of Rickets she frequently and ominously predicted I was harboring.

    My parents were both readers and our house was filled with books. I too read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights at an early age. When I visited my grandmother the shelves there were filled with all the old classics like Treasure Island, Ivanhoe, Knights of the Round Table, Albert Payson Terhune dog stories, Heidi and the like.

    Concurrently I pretty much worked through everything in my elementary libraries of any conceivable interest to me.

    The only books I found too "difficult" were Lord of the Rings and Watership Down because I really disliked having to learn a new language and referring to glossaries which I found to be completely annoying and distracting so I abandoned both books early on.

    My parents also subscribed to the Book of the Month club, so there were modern popular novels coming in the door at a regular rate as well, most of which I didn't care for as much as the older stuff. Nothing was kept from me as being too "mature" or beyond my understanding. But, books back then did not have the explicit sex scenes that they do nowadays, the sex was more implied and sub textural. So I don't think parents in the era of my childhood had to be concerned as much with censorship of "adults only" or "daring" material.

    The book that broke that barrier as far as I can recall was "The Group" by Mary McCarthy which was the first book I ever read that had the more clinical details of what "going to bed" involved. More than making hospital corners of the top sheet as it turns out.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 06:25:51 AM PDT

    •  Great comment, Phoebe! (7+ / 0-)

      There's nothing that warms my heart more than learning that other people grew up with parents who constantly bought and read books.

      Good for you, reading the classics at an early age. With that for a foundation you must have done very well in high school and college.

      Remember in Daddy Long Legs, how Judy Abbott had to catch up on all the reading she'd missed because of growing up in an orphanage and being forced to work as a nursemaid? Books that the other college girls mentioned in passing were unknown to her. However, she quickly caught up.

      That book remains one of my favorites today, even though it was written a hundred years ago. It's definitely one I'll recommend to my granddaughter.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 07:04:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Daddy Long Legs always makes me think of (4+ / 0-)

        The Constant Nymph since they are both versions of the May September romance of a younger girl/woman with an older man with drastically different outcomes.

        I picked up The Constant Nymph basically because of its cover and was then drawn into one of the strangest books I've ever read. It veers from a Tyrolean "You Can't take It With You" eccentric family to the pure yet doomed love of  adolescent Tessa for the composer twice her age who marries her cousin. It is off the weirdness charts yet is strangely compelling. The book was extremely well received in its day, but I doubt that would hold true if it were originally published today - our modern sensibilities would have a much harder time seeing Lewis as anything but a predator.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 10:11:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Night by Elie Wiesel (9+ / 0-)

    I think I was around fifteen or so when I read 'Night'.  'The Diary of Anne Frank' was required reading in middle school, and while I thought that book was tragic, nothing prepared me for the horrors that Mr Wiesel wrote of in his book.  It was hard to read and impossible to forget.  

    My mom pretty much let me ready anything, so I also got to read a lot of Stephen King, Peter Straub, Jacquelinne Susanne, etc.  My son is 14 and I allow him to read anything he likes.  

  •  My father encouraged me to read (8+ / 0-)

    Catcher in the Rye when I was about 12.  I certainly didn't get all of it, red read it at eighteen and had a much clearer understanding.  But even at 12 you know what a phony is.
    I read lots of Stephen king as a kid and for some reason at about 12 I also read Bonfire of the Vanities.  I think because my aunt had read it and lots of people were talking about it.  I remember talking with her about it too, very enjoyably.  She encouraged me to read Forever by Judy Bloom which deals with a girl deciding to have sex for the first time.  She could talk to me about stuff that my mom and I found uncomfortable.

    We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers - thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams. - Peter S. Beagle

    by jk2003 on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 06:51:51 AM PDT

    •  Everyone needs an aunt like that, jk2003 (6+ / 0-)

      Glad you had one. :)

      Your reading was quite advanced for age 12, I must say. I read Bonfire when I was an adult and still didn't understand it! :)

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 08:35:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A feather in your cap (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, Diana in NoVa

        I kind of suspect everyone who did understand it was a little corrupted by it.  Yoda, I'm told, got through about twenty pages and put it down again, declaring "The cynicism runs deep in this one."

        The real USA Patriot Act was written in 1789. It's called the Bill of Rights.

        by nicteis on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 06:34:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i loved it... (0+ / 0-)

          i think its one of wolfe's best.

          i'm not sure i would call it an overly cynical book.  was it the first to describe wall street traders as masters of the universe?

          If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

          by No Exit on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:37:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One of the pluses of being the child of divorce (6+ / 0-)

    is that nobody paid any attention to what I was reading.

    'Challenging' books is a difficult concept for me. I read so many and so fast that I didn't really stop to consider whether anything was outside my comfort zone. I remember when my parents were still married, they didn't want to me to read the autobiography of Sammy Davis Jr -- it's unclear at this point whether because of the racism depicted or the scene where he loses his eye.

    Of course, I read it!

    Like most of you, I wandered out of the 'kids section' at the library early on...and have wandered back in from time to time.

    The Eno the Thracian Fantasy Series by C.B. Pratt. Hero for Hire

    by wonderful world on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 06:58:02 AM PDT

  •  The Iliad (7+ / 0-)

    I want to say I was 8-14.  How can it be such a large range?  Because my memory sucks, and none seems right for the memory.  We were on vacation, and I certainly remember reading it, and even claiming to finish it.  Unless it was bought used, I still have the copy and it certainly looks read and I don't think anyone else has read it since.  But in retrospect that strains credulity.  By 15 that's high school, and most people have an adult reading level or close to it.  I think I read Ivanhoe for school in seventh or eighth grade.

  •  For me (7+ / 0-)

    The Gulag Archipelago. 2000 pages.

    FYI - the first volume is the best, then it gets tedius. But Russian literature is always tedius so there's that.

    Yes, DailyKos DOES have puzzles! Visit us here Saturday nights @ 5:00 PDT (easier puzzles) and Sunday nights @ 5:00 PDT (more challenging) for a group solving. Even if you just pop in and comment while watching the fun, everybody is welcome. uid:21352

    by pucklady on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 07:20:25 AM PDT

    •  Russian literature (4+ / 0-)

      When I was in my existentialist phase I read a lot of the depressing variety of Russian novels, the ones all the sophisticated European existentialists mentioned. Which is probably why I really enjoyed Robert Heinlein's remarks about the topic: he claimed to have learned Russian in order to read the great novels, only to discover that translation had actually improved them. He said he wasn't sure of the purpose of Russian literature, except that it wasn't entertainment.

      If your internal map of reality doesn't match external conditions, bad things happen.--Cambias

      by pimutant on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 09:33:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thou art braver than I, pucklady! (4+ / 0-)

      Goodness, reading 2,000 pages would take up a large portions of one's life. I agree about Russian literature. Let it be for the Russians! There's gotta be something to do on those long, dark winter nights.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 01:13:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Around the age of 11 or 12 (6+ / 0-)

    I read His Eye is on the Sparrow by Ethel Waters. It was one of the books my mother kept on the highest bookshelf, out of my reach, she thought. Though tame by today's standards it was a biography that fit right in with the early 60s and the civil rights movement and the women's movement.

    Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind. -Albert Schweitzer, (1875-1965)

    by supenau on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 07:23:30 AM PDT

  •  Funeral Rites by Jean Genet (7+ / 0-)

    I had also read de Sade, which was shocking, by then.  But for all the brutality of de Sade, Genet disturbed me at an even deeper level.  Not because of the sexuality, but because, unlike de Sade, Genet portrayed evil people as heroic.  It took a long time for me to get over it.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 07:27:43 AM PDT

  •  As a young teen in the mid 60's (6+ / 0-)

    Read Black Like Me, a real eye opener for me, and later Who Walk Alone, story about a guy who has leprosy.
    I also had parents who read constantly, books everywhere, regular trips to the library, and later to used book stores.

    As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all.

    by SanFernandoValleyMom on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 07:54:39 AM PDT

    •  Then you had a fortunate upbringing, SanFernando (3+ / 0-)

      I never realized until I was quite grown up what a tremendous  advantage the habit of reading, especially daring reading, confers.

      Glad you are among the advantaged! :)

      Do you know that beautiful Langston Hughes poem?

      Night coming tenderly
      Black like me.

      Wish they'd had a course in African-American literature when I was in college.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 02:10:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I didn't do daring until college (6+ / 0-)

    Although I did read Lovecraft's Color Out of Space on a dare from my older brother when I was ten.  Had horrible nightmares for weeks, gloried in them, and gobbled up all the rest of him I could find.

    But difficult? No contest. Around the same time, I resolved to read the entire Bible (King James Version). Started off with the easy stuff, the New Testament. Plowed through the soul-deadening repetitions of II Kings and I and II Chronicles, and finally ground to a halt somewhere in Jeremiah.

    The only sex ed I ever got from my parents, and it was as little as they could get away with, resulted from my being puzzled by passages in Leviticus. Come to think of it, I'm still puzzled by those passages in Leviticus, but now for different reasons.

    The real USA Patriot Act was written in 1789. It's called the Bill of Rights.

    by nicteis on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 08:28:07 AM PDT

    •  nicteis, that's certainly an eye-opener! (3+ / 0-)

      Wow, thanks for your comment. For myself, I've never dared to slog through the entire Bible, but I do love some of the stirring Jacobean language. And the Song of Solomon is so very erotic, isn't it?

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 02:12:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  At ten, I didn't grok erotic (3+ / 0-)

        It did register with me that it was mushy love stuff, and so beneath my dignity as an American boy. The imagery was merely confusing, and by that time I was less full of curiosity than eager to get through the slog.

        But yes, its humanity and huwomanity calls to us down through the centuries, over the heads and past the desperate squeezing into theological allegories of all the puritans in between.

        The real USA Patriot Act was written in 1789. It's called the Bill of Rights.

        by nicteis on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 03:24:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I grew up surrounded by books (7+ / 0-)

    And not just bestsellers and potboilers or airport paperbacks (though we had some of those too), but Big Important Books, some of them quite old, and a lot of them not really intended for kids. My mother was an English Lit major (going for her MA at the time) from a long line of book-collecting academics. Dad was also a teacher (history & civics, science) and a voracious reader; I read everything I could get my hands on as far back as I can remember. A lot of my really early reading was in the form of old Victorian-era Children's books and stacks of old (old old, like 11890s-1920s old) National Geographics.

    The first real adult book I read was Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, in second grade. I remember being able to follow the story and grasp the themes, but being a little overwhelmed by the complexity of adult relationships being depicted, and feeling just as awful for Lenny's poor squished mice as I did for Lenny. Around the same time, I read Flowers for Algernon, and thought at the time I'd just read the saddest book I would ever read in my life. I read some hard sci-fi, a lot of history, and even tried my hand at fantasy (I found Tolkien opaque and boring in third grade, and gave up on The Hobbit; I still stand by my initial observation), and I loooooved biographies. I also read some age-appropriate books (Little House, The Borrowers, the Narnia books). I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; it showed me that parents could be fallible.

    I was forbidden very little---around the time I was in junior high, I do remember my stepmother thinking I should not be reading adult romance novels (stuff like Sweet Savage Love) or The Thorn Birds (because of the sex) and Carrie (I think that one for the language?) but of course I read all of those---and more!---in secret. :-)  Banned Books Week is still one of my favorite things.

    "We are the sum of our experiences, plus a bit of biology tossed in." © grover

    by Vacationland on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 08:43:29 AM PDT

    •  What an adventurous odyssey of reading you've had, (3+ / 0-)

      Vacationland!Good on yer, as they say Down Under. I also have read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and now have quite a different attitude toward it from what I did at age 11.

      This:

      A lot of my really early reading was in the form of old Victorian-era Children's books and stacks of old (old old, like 11890s-1920s old) National Geographics.
      OMG! Did you read the Elsie Dinsmore series? The Harlem Globe Trotters? The Bobbsey Twins? To say nothing of Gene Stratton Porter, with Girl of the Limberlost, Her Father's Daughter (terribly racist), and The Magic Garden?

      If we ever meet in person, we could certainly exchange views on those!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 02:17:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I read Elsie Dinsmore (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        No Exit, Diana in NoVa

        and the Bobbsey Twins, and the Five Little Peppers, and Gene Stratton Porter (Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost) and The Enchanted Barn by Grace Livingston Hill

        I thought Elsie Dinsmore was one of the most bizarre books I ever read up to that point. Little Elsie, always running around and telling everyone "No! It's the Sabbath!" if they contemplated doing anything other than praying, culminating in the scene where she faints at the piano after refusing to play a song her father requests which is too secular and Papa finally sees the light.

        We were talking about Daddy Long Legs and The Constant Nymph above - Elsie Dinsmore is yet another book of that era where Elsie marries her father's friend and contemporary - quite the fashion back then, I guess.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 05:29:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Steinbeck's "The Red Pony." (5+ / 0-)

    Why in the name of FSM anyone would think that is a good book for an 11 year old girl, who adored horses and rode at every opportunity, I still cannot understand 56 years later! Turned me off Steinbeck for years - and I still will not read anything that has a hint of animal abuse or tragedy. And there are lots of movies I won't see. It was really traumatic.

    As for challenging stuff, the summer I turned 16, my Dad dared me to read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - in a condensed version of only about 1500 pages. :-) Not highly recommended for a summer read!

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 09:09:16 AM PDT

  •  Wasn't much of a reader as a kid (4+ / 0-)

    although my parents had books everywhere. They both were readers and we always had loads of books. My mother would read a book and tell me about it and recommend it. She was really a speed reader and would polish off a book in an hour or two. She did stop me from read "Mary Magdalene"(it had a really interesting cover with this beautiful lady in a red dress falling off her shoulders). The Roman soldiers had just attacked this city and were raping and pillaging and it was getting really interesting and my mother took it and said I was way too young, 4th or 5th grade....I never found it. Oh well.
    I found loads of other books that were more interesting.
    I read mostly science and history books, nonfiction. But I did discover science fiction in 8th grade when my teacher started reading "Citizen of the Galaxy" to the class when we had "free" time. He never finished and I didn't find a copy of it until I was in my late 20s and finished it then.
    A book I particularly liked was the Story of God by Will Durant...maybe it had a different title...It had an exceptional chapter on Anknaten followed by one on Moses. I was about 15 or 16 when I read it. I should look it up and read it again.
    I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy in one week the summer before going to college and really loved it. Stranger in a Strange Land when I was a Freshman and Cry The Beloved Country and Darkness at Noon the same year. They were not part of any curriculum but I found them very lasting.
    As a Reading teacher, I have tried to read the books the students might like reading or had to read and used to read 100 to 150 books a year.
    Now, retired, with vision issues, I am still reading Piketty's Capital. I think it is great but it is taking a bit longer than books usually take for me. Of course i have read a few others for fun, meanwhile.
    Sorry this is so long...I got carried away thinking of books i read that I really liked.

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 09:28:51 AM PDT

    •  No apology necessary, Temmoku! (3+ / 0-)

      It's highly interesting to hear of your reading history. And good for you, essaying Piketty's Capital.

      There are R&BLers who greatly love audiobooks. Have you tried them? If you have vision issues, they might be just the thing for you.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 02:23:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clash with the librarians (4+ / 0-)

    When I was about 13 we moved to a town where the library was close enough I could get there by myself. My dad had fought in WWII and we had quite a few books about the war, like Ernie Pyle and the war in pix from one of the big magazines, and so on. Somehow I learned about the existence of "The Authoritarian Personalty" and thought maybe reading it would help make sense of the insanity, so I found it at the library, went to check it out, but the librarian refused to let me have it because I was "too young" for such a book. I brought my mother to the library, and she checked the book out for me, and told the librarian I could read anything I wanted.

    There were two odd results from this: I read everything shelved near "The Authoritarian Personalty"--figuring forbidden equaled interesting and fun, so that from that day to this I have been unable to regard psychology with any real seriousness. To me it is basically entertainment. The other odd result was I made a careful search of all the shelves in the "adult" section, and discovered Science Fiction. Life was never the same!

    If your internal map of reality doesn't match external conditions, bad things happen.--Cambias

    by pimutant on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 09:45:19 AM PDT

    •  Love your comment, pimutant! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, No Exit

      This:

      ...the librarian refused to let me have it because I was "too young" for such a book. I brought my mother to the library, and she checked the book out for me, and told the librarian I could read anything I wanted.
      A pox on those who would pigeonhole young people's brains! Glad your mother stood up for you. I agree that a child should read almost anything he or she wants. (Obviously, there are some areas that are better left unexplored until adulthood.)

      That's funny, that you can't take psychology seriously. Sounds pretty sensible to me. And sci-fi--what a delightful voyage of discovery, so to speak! It entertained and informed me for years.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 02:28:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My mother tells me she gave up (5+ / 0-)

    trying to control what I read when I was seven and came into the kitchen asking her to explain to me who was actually fighting in the battle in the book I was reading because there were so many "son of"s that the only one I was sure of was the one who got the spear through his nipple.

    I was reading The Iliad.  Her copy.  Mine now - she gave it to me, along with many other books when she moved to Seattle in 1991.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 09:59:52 AM PDT

    •  Oh, gosh, loggersbrat! That's amazing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, RiveroftheWest

      I'm starting to think we need a whole open forum on the Iliad.You were seven when you read it? What an impression it must have made on your young mind!

      Glad you still have the book. I'm sure there are a lot of memories associated with it.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 02:31:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Now, in hindsight, a third grader reading (3+ / 0-)

    The Saracen Blade might be skirting dangerous shores.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 12:50:40 PM PDT

    •  BlackSheep1, followed your link (3+ / 0-)

      Good gracious, what a story! Yes, I'd say from the description that it was a bit much for a third grader. Still, when I was reading books like that, the s-x pretty much was over my head. I just shrugged it off and kept reading for the adventure.

      I used to be entertained by Frank Yerby, read a couple of his--The Foxes of Harrow, I think one of them was called. He's one of those writers who long ago fell out of fashion.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 02:36:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Plato (3+ / 0-)

    The Apology of Socrates, that is, his defense at his trial. I think I was 11. I hated the assigned book reports, but my mother intervened with my English teacher and got me permission to choose my own books to report on, as long as they were above grade level. Early Plato, where Socrates claims that his only wisdom is recognizing his ignorance, is not bad. Late Plato, such as The Laws and The Republic, are utterly disastrous manuals of oligarchic tyranny, as I first learned from reading Bertrand Russell.

    Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice, by James Branch Cabell, but not for school.

    I am in search of my wife, who has been carried off by a devil, poor fellow.
    Every science fiction book in my local library.

    Then I started reading my father's college math books.

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 11:11:03 PM PDT

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