The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Early Reading Meme

Posted on: November 18, 2006

This one has been making the rounds at various litblogs, created by Kate. I’ll have a go at it while I think of something more substantial to post.

1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?

I know that I was at a reasonable level by the time I was five, because I could read the newspaper. My babysitter would show me off to any and everyone when she got the chance.

I have no idea who taught me. I cannot remember my mother or aunt ever teaching or reading to me, although they must have. I was sent off to a sort of “pre-school” when I was 2 1/2 at a local prep school in Montego Bay. (Prep schools are private primary schools in Jamaica.) Maybe that’s where?

2. Did you own any books as a child? If so, what’s the first one that you remember owning?

I owned quite a bit. I had a very cute white little bookshelf filled with story books, picture books, colouring books along with my sticker collection and various boardgames. I don’t remember the first one I owned. My first book memory was of a huge white hardcover counting book, with brightly coloured pictures of a birthday cake with strawberries in the icing and of elephants balancing on balls. It’s probably still at home somewhere or given to a younger relative.

3. What’s the first book that you bought with your own money?

I don’t know if I’ve ever had my own money. When I was at boarding school I used my pocket money to buy The Chrysalids and The Horse and His Boy from a boarder. At the time it did not register at all that it was an entry in the famous Chronicles of Narnia series. At that time fantasy books were not big in Jamaica at all, and besides there wasn’t much of a reading culture.

4. Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?

I was a re-reader of poetry, and once I was 11 or so years old, of naughty Harlequins and Mills & Boons raided from my mother’s bookshelf. Ha, not to mention those awful Judith Krantz books.

5. What’s the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?

Probably a romance book. I’d like to think that it was Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations, also on my mother’s bookshelves, but I’m pretty sure the paperback romance pre-dated them by a few months.

6. Are there children’s books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?

I cannot recall ever passing on a book when I was a child. If you placed it in my hand I would read it. Books were always reasonably dear in Jamaica so I snatched up whatever I could get. My mother was very good about buying me books, it was an interest she encouraged. I knew she had misgivings about the romance novels at one point, and hid them from me, but I always found them. Then she’d find them, hide them from me, and the cycle continued.

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