Carnival of Genealogy 118th edition: Reading

How could I possibly ignore this month’s Carnival of Genealogy topic of reading. Jasia has posed the following questions:

Do you come from a family of readers? What kinds of reading material was typically found around your house when you were growing up… fiction books, comic books, poetry, the Bible, magazines, cookbooks, prayer books??? What do you like to read now? Do you give books as gifts? Are you a fan of eBooks? The lazy, hazy days of summer are right around the corner and many of us will be reaching for a good book to read on the hammock or on the beach. What do you recommend?”

Reading with my grandmother while Granddad watches on.

When you walk into someone’s house for the first time, do you have to contain your curiosity about what’s on their book shelves? Do you think twice, mentally reviewing the trust-worthiness of the person in front of you, before you lend a treasured book? Do you look at pictures of houses and living rooms without a book in sight and wonder what’s wrong with the people who live there? If so I suspect that, like me, you have an incurable illness called readeritis.

Actually I don’t come from a family of readers – my reading gene comes from my father. Mum was always too active to sit and read other than her evening prayer books. My own children learnt early that reading was as important to me as food and drink. Luckily I married a man who understands that once my nose is in a book and I have the reading bit between my teeth, there’ll be little point in trying to get my attention until I finish the final page. Many’s the night I’ve gone to bed because I’m tired, only to be still awake hours later finishing my book.

Al fresco reading -I’m surprised I looked up given how close how little of the book was left to read.

As a child I envied a neighbouring family who had one small glass-fronted bookcase. I loved being taken by them in their car to the local library which was inaccessible by public transport. Heaven was going to high school with its diverse smorgasbord of books and I was a virtual glutton as I gobbled them up. Being at high school in the city I was also able to join the School of Arts where I had a wide array of fiction to choose from and developed a teenage devotion to Seventeen magazine which opened my eyes to life as a teenager in America.  Books were compulsory items on my birthday and Christmas wish lists and I was never happier than when I got a new book I’d been hoping for, or indeed any new book. With Christmas and birthday both falling in the midst of the long summer school holidays, there was every opportunity to find a shady, cooler spot to sit and read. This habit of books as gifts is an engrained part of our family’s tradition and our grandchildren already have a severe dose of the reading virus. Even the three year old takes his book to his bed for the afternoon quiet time/nap.

Reading a pop-up book with our daughter one Xmas.

It is a case of “be careful what you wish for” as we try to contain my book collection to the available bookcases in the house. Like coat-hangers they seem to multiply so that no matter how many you give away, the bookshelves are still overflowing.  This is one of the reasons that I’ve turned to e-books for some of my reading. I’ve been surprised to discover that I can get just as engrossed turning the virtual pages as I did with the real thing. I was amused recently when I rang my hairdressing salon. The person who answered turned to my own hairdresser and said “it’s Pauleen, who reads the little book (iPad)”. They seem to find it a tad strange that I sit there, colour on my greying hair, reading blogs or books on my iPad.  What else would I do, I ask?

My obsession with family history has affected my obsession with books so that now I read more and more reference books or historical books. My reading-for-relaxation has changed from fiction to blog-reading with occasional bouts of midnight mania when I get into a good book.  Over the past few weeks I’ve been revisiting some Australian books from my Insights into Australia post.   So far I’ve read A Town Like Alice, The True Story of the Kelly Gang, Harland’s Half Acre and They’re a Weird Mob and I’ve started on Foreign Correspondence.

To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries. A C Grayling, Financial Times” (in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel) [i]