Friday, March 13, 2015

My Literary Genealogy

I have my mother's hair and skin, my grandmother's figure, my father's affinity for doing my own thing.  On the other hand, I do no not have my mother's organization, my grandmother's gentleness or my father's singing voice.
I am a combination of my ancestors, with bits I have picked up from friends, teachers, pastors, co-workers, famous personalities and even . . . book characters?  

Surely I am not influenced by made-up stories or words written in a book  - fiction or non-.  Yet, in Audrey Niffenegger's graphic novel "The Night Bookmobile", the young lady wandering through the stacks realizes they are filled with the collection of books she has read throughout her life.  
"These shelves of books were a distillation of my life"
If there is such a connection between my life and what I read, there must also be a connection to the people who led me to those books.  They become ancestors, of sorts, who contribute to the DNA of my reading life.

My cousin, Arlene, introduced me to Agatha Christie and started a life-long love of mysteries.  My high school friend, Maureen, convinced me to try science fiction.  That idea didn't stick, but at least I have a general view of the genre.  Another high school friend, Ann, got me to read The Hobbit - which I loved at 17, but not when I reread it at 53.

As an adult, Nora widened my view of Christian fiction.  A lovely group of ladies in Sutherland, Nebraska taught me the joy of reading and sharing with a book club.  Mary taught me that friends can disagree on what to read, but still share a love of books.  Becoming a librarian (a title I wanted since grade school) pushed me into exploring authors and genres I had never considered - thanks to Joyce for hiring me and becoming a dear friend.  My sister, Teri, continues to challenge my reading through our personal book club.

Mrs. Jones not only taught me high school English, she also taught me that I didn't have to limit my reading to what was popular.  Dave's Aunt Ginger inspired a very young me to have a home filled with books.  Thirty five years later, she still inspires me.  My husband persuaded me to read and, I confess, enjoy Louis L'Amour's westerns.  Part of the reason my BFF, Wanda, became my BFF was that she shared my love of the "Cat Who..." series and the occasional "guilty pleasure" romance novel.

In more recent years, I have discovered the on-line reading community through blogs, Twitter and the semi-annual "Dewey's 24-hour Readathon" - two of my favorite days of the year.

Most importantly, 20+ years ago, a pastor's wife named Marilyn overheard a conversation that brought us together, and she taught me to really read my Bible.

Who has influenced what and how you read?  

“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I'm going to have to think about who really influenced me. I've, sadly, never been surrounded by real readers until more recently so mostly it's been my family and teachers. You've been blessed!