When I was in grade school, we didn’t have a lot to read around our house other than the Bible and farming magazines. I read those, though, and I remember when my sister and her husband got a set of Encyclopedias for their kids and I would go to their house and read them. I still recall one fantastic cover photograph of a brightly colored lizard against a red-sand background.
By junior high I was seriously addicted to reading. I was happy when it rained because then I couldn’t do much farm work and would stay in the house reading all day. I mostly devoured Science fiction, fantasy, sports, and dog stories in those days. Edgar Rice Burroughs was a favorite, but not his Tarzan books. I read his Martian series. I also loved the dog books by Jim Kjelgaard, especially one called Desert Dog, about a greyhound abandoned in the desert who has to learn to survive on his own. At this time, I was getting the majority of my books from the public library, where my sister, Dolores, worked. She knew what I liked and brought them home to me, or else my dad would let me go about once a week and I would check out all the books they’d let me have.
Dolores had also married a reader. Roger read mostly westerns, and through him I discovered Louis L’Amour. When I finished the books I’d gotten from the library I’d borrow Roger’s books. Eventually, I read just about everything L’Amour had written. I also got my sister in trouble around this time with my mom. I’d borrowed a book from her that had “sex” scenes in it, and my mom, upset by the cover, had read a little bit of it. I got a chewing out but I’m pretty sure Dolores suffered worse. She didn’t stop giving me books, though, so I bless her.
It was also around this time that I began to get in trouble for reading “too” much. I admit that I sometimes tried to avoid chores in order to read, and I frequently would go and hide in the barn away from everyone else so I could have free time to read. My mom was afraid I’d hurt my eyes, and I do wear glasses these days so maybe she was right. Other than that, though, reading has always been and remains a staple of my life. I can’t imagine what I’d have been like without it.