Everyone in my family are readers. My parents started feeding my voracious literary appetite when I was a tyke. Enraged that my kindergarten teacher didn’t believe in having his class read, they asked a family friend who taught first grade if I could participate in her reading program. She was more than happy to accommodate and I got two years’ worth of folders and stickers because I was in her class the following year. My sister and I were always read to before lights out. I frequently raided my parents’ bookshelves, which is how I discovered Shakespeare and Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, the latter of which my father finally just gave to me.
During a recent family visit, my dad was up late reading Clive Cussler’s Flood Tide, which I’ll get back when I visit later in the year. He says it’s good. As per sibling law, my sister annoyed me by laying books down in random spots when she was done perusing. At least she left the poetry anthology and art books on the coffee table. Because I can’t find it, I’m guessing she took the book on Japanese culture. I suppose it’s only fair, considering it was hers in the first place. But she left it behind after staying with me one summer. If I had known sooner that my sister had Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle with her, I would have read that. I don’t know what my mom is reading these days, but our tastes have always been different. One of the few books we both read was the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
I never had to bring more than a couple books with me during the annual summer vacation visit with relatives. With the exception of staying at my grandma’s, where there was numerous Danielle Steele, there was plenty of reading material that suited my tastes. Thanks to my cousins I have Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Brian Greene’s the Elegant Universe, and Rod Serling’s New Stories From the Twilight Zone, which was originally my aunt’s. I’ve had them for several years but still have yet to read the first two. I will at some point.
My uncle had me go through my aunt’s books while we were sitting shiva for her. If I wasn’t traveling by suitcase I would have come away with more, but chose Ya’akov Kirschen’s Trees, the Green Testament, Chaim Potok’s I Am the Clay, and Michael Blake’s Dances with Wolves. The first two felt oddly appropriate. It was interestingly different to read about Zionism in comic book form. Blake’s and Potok’s books are still waiting to be read.
Only in the past four years have I been getting to know my dad’s brother and his wife. I first met them when I was too young to remember. When we’re not the only ones drinking beer or wine, we’re usually at the music and book stores. We each came away with a stack of used books last year. They drove back home with their crafts, fiction, and history and my parents shipped all my sci-fi. I’ll find out what my ex-military uncle thought of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card over Scotch later this year.
The reading tastes of my chosen family also vary a great deal. I bemoan the fact that a fantastic queer studies library (and its owner), moved a day’s trip away. I really enjoyed pouring through its contents on a regular basis. Members who live closer and I frequently share books, which is one reason I feel compelled to have my own library. Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, the forensic anthropology series by Kathy Reichs, and a slew of other books are available for whenever I choose. At the moment, I have about a dozen books I’ve borrowed, some of which need to be returned.
Although we like some of the same authors and books, I’m the sci-fi sheep of my large literary family.
So who in your family enjoys reading? Do you share tastes? Which books have you received or swiped from them? Are you a Scotch drinker?