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Childhood readings

By mirleid in Culture
Sun Oct 23, 2005 at 08:23:55 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

There comes a time in everybody's life when you realise that you've accumulated too much crap over the years, and that some of it just got to go. You need to make room for the new crap, especially if you are like me and a bit anal about keeping every single thing that you ever bought/got as a gift/found in the street. So, I decided to go through a few boxes filled with assorted stuff. And I found some books that I last read when I was 8.

They were my father's before me; I guess that they would almost qualify as collector's items. They were the sort of book with a bound set of central pages which you had to use a knife to cut through and open (that was how they guaranteed that the book that you were buying had never been read before). The paper was almost as rough as the stuff that is now used to make supermarket bags, and the cover illustrations were quite naïve.

These particular books' author was Emilio Salgari (page in Spanish). He was Italian, born in 1862 in Verona. He wrote a series of adventure books, the action taking place in far away places like Malaysia, India and the US, even though Salgari himself never left the Mediterranean. I guess that his most successful character was Sandokan; some of you might even have seen the TV Series.

Salgari was an extremely prolific writer, by the end of his life having written more than 70 novels. Even though some of his books enjoyed quite a success, he led quite a difficult life: his publishers paid him very little, so, he lived on the edge of poverty. He committed suicide in 1911 by disembowelling himself with a kitchen knife, leaving a letter for his publishers that read:

To my editors

You have grown rich through my efforts and suffering, while keeping my family and me in semi-poverty or worse. The only thing that I ask in return for everything that you have taken from me is that you pay for my funeral.

Emilio Salgari.

Although I quite liked Sandokan, my favourite was Capitan Tormenta. This cycle took place during the Ottoman wars, and told the tale of Capitan Tormenta, a hero of the Lepanto battle. The twist was that Tormenta was actually a woman, looking for his beloved, believed to be a prisoner of the Ottomans. There were extraordinarily accurate renditions of historic battles like the Famagusta siege, the bad guys were really bad, the good guys were really good and there was no moral ambiguity: great growing-up stuff.

One interesting consequence of reading his books was that, since the historical background was extremely accurate, I was left with quite a lot of useful knowledge, school-wise. And it was not painful to acquire at all: you just sat at home reading adventure novels. It beat reading stuffy school books.

That was what I read when I was 8. What did you read?

NOTE: I am now halfway through the Sandokan series (currently on "Conquering an empire"), enjoying it every bit as much as I did when I was a kid.


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Display: Sort:
Childhood readings | 70 comments (64 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
When I was 9 (3.00 / 3) (#2)
by bml on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 08:58:00 AM EST

I read "The Name of the Rose". My catholic religion teacher almost had a heart attack when I told him so.

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
I don't see why... (none / 0) (#4)
by mirleid on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 09:41:36 AM EST

...your teacher would have a fit over it (or, I do see why, I just think it was stupid of him). I mean, while the book describes a number of heresies, and the main character William holds unorthodox views of Catholicism, it is all presented in a non-confrontational, non-accusing style, which should provoke discussion rather than being considered some sort of indictment of religion in general or Catholicism in particular.

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
I also think it was stupid of him (none / 1) (#5)
by bml on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 10:39:47 AM EST

But, c'mon, we're talking about a 50-something very religious, very conservative person. What did that book represent for him?
  • A depiction of a christian monastery by a non-christian author
  • Corruption at all levels of the church
  • Homosexual monks
  • A young monk having sex
  • etc etc etc

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
[ Parent ]
I'd rather think it was for other reasons (none / 1) (#32)
by MrHanky on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:01:54 PM EST

Back when I was 18, my religion teacher proclaimed that the 14th century was an interesting time, and that the novel The Name of the Rose could be an interesting read for some of us, when we became more mature. Of course, this teacher (whith the fitting surname Ekle, meaning Disgusting), was an arrogant bastard. And quite disgusting. But he, and some other people as well, actually thing TNotR is a difficult book, which, in many ways, is correct. A nine year old would never understand most of the stuff in it (which demands a fair understanding of some of the debates at the time and at present), but on the other hand, a nine year old could probably understand the basic story.

I think the teacher was a bit impressed.

"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]

When I was 8 I read (2.33 / 3) (#6)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 11:13:52 AM EST

The Players Handbook to the Original D&D Gameset.

That rules. I wish I still had those cheap, baby-blue set of plastic dice....


Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

why am I not at all suprised $ (none / 0) (#9)
by creativedissonance on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 01:57:56 PM EST

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
[ Parent ]
You shouldn't be. (none / 1) (#10)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 02:01:01 PM EST

I liked reading the game rules even more than playing. But, now, when I download something off the net for fun, I just get bored.



Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

Swiss Family Robinson (none / 0) (#7)
by adavies42 on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 01:49:28 PM EST

The first "long book" I remember reading was Swiss Family Robinson, which I was not all that impressed by--there are some pretty boring parts. Otherwise, I got into scifi quite early--I remember being read picture books called Red Sun, Blue Sun and Jed's Junior Space Patrol when I was about five. From there, it was on to Space Cadet, Tom Swift, and the Andre Norton section of the Young Adult shelves at the public library.

comic books (none / 0) (#11)
by rhiannon on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 05:29:36 PM EST

When I was a youngster I devoured books, basically anything I could get my hands on, although I was not allowed to buy new books and none of the other four brothers read as much. So, mostly I read a bunch of semi-cheesy adult books. However, my true passion, which was shared by my father, was carl bark's scrooge mcduck comics. Later on in my childhood don rosa also became a large part of my comic book diet. I still enjoy reading comic books by these two artists and they are the only 'comic book' I can stand to read, although I enjoy a few 'graphic novels' by several others. Carl barks had more of a classic black & white approach with simplistic morals and cheesy gags, which suited my younger years quite well; while don rosa has a much more sophisticated artistic style and sense of humor, which more fits me today.

I continued to rebuff the advances... so many advances... of so many attractive women. -MC
Did any of those books contain (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 08:58:01 PM EST




Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

Uncle Scrooge was great (none / 0) (#21)
by jongleur on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:23:17 AM EST

The adventures I remember engaged far beyond the normal comic; I don't remember who it was made the ones I read though.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
Comics (none / 0) (#68)
by duck0 on Tue Nov 01, 2005 at 11:04:21 AM EST

I never caught on to Carl Barks, the progenitor of ducks, but Don Rosa was and is one of my all-time favourite comicbook artist. I also heard in a radiointerview, that like Emilio Salgari mentioned above, he hardly gets paid at all by his publisher--Disney (I believe it was a fixed rate per comic).
Lets hope he doesn't do anything drastic.

[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure I was reading Dune at age 8 $ (none / 0) (#12)
by creativedissonance on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 05:42:00 PM EST

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
I think I was 5th grade (none / 1) (#33)
by hkf on Sun Oct 23, 2005 at 12:22:16 AM EST

With little understanding of it. It took me half a dozen more times through highschool to really appreciate it.

[ Parent ]
Wow (none / 0) (#66)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 05:48:36 PM EST

Was the damage reversable, or are you cursed now always to find hidden significance in every slight gesture of everybody within 50 feet?

I mean, I enjoyed the book, I really did, but after a while I swore that if I ever met Herbert I was going to smack him, just to see if he could fully appreciate the subtle layers of meaning hidden in my fist.

Just once it would have been cool if Jessica had stubbed her toe or something, anything not freighted with meaning.

[ Parent ]

Ulysses at eight. (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by thankyougustad on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 06:52:53 PM EST

I found it to be brilliant.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

You were supposed to say... (3.00 / 8) (#14)
by nailgun on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 06:58:55 PM EST

..."my suspicions that it was overrated were confirmed."

[ Parent ]
I was only eight. n.t (none / 0) (#17)
by thankyougustad on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 08:49:31 PM EST

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
You must have been a gullible kid. - (none / 1) (#41)
by tkatchevzombie on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 08:10:53 AM EST

[ Parent ]
you must be (none / 0) (#46)
by thankyougustad on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 08:32:44 PM EST

a gullible adult.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
No way (none / 1) (#48)
by tkatchevzombie on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 04:05:47 AM EST

I have better taste in literature, like Anne Rice.

[ Parent ]
Books suck (1.27 / 11) (#15)
by nailgun on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 07:03:48 PM EST

There are few worse ways to treat a child than forcing him or her to spend their time turning the pages of some musty tome or other.

In the future all reading will be off of screens, and most communication will be in the form of audio or video streams. Children should be out experiencing the world, not poring over lifeless written words.

you're just bitter because you can't read. (none / 1) (#16)
by krkrbt on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 08:37:22 PM EST

(K5 doesn't count) I can't read either... I once scanned hundreds of pages of Moby Dick - don't know anything about what happened.  Someone said it's about a whale, but that's all I really know.  

Tried to read Tolkien's The Hobbit. Couldn't do it.  Tried LOTR too, but couldn't get more than 20 pages into it.  So I went to see the movie instead.

John Taylor Gatto's A Different Kind of Teacher talks about how the author (an award-winning NYC schoolteacher) realized that his students were incapable of reading.  I took his simple test (on the first 20 pages of All Quiet on the Western Front, borrowed it from the library), and failed it too.  I do okay with technical stuff, but I'm totally lost with anything that has a story.  I couldn't even read Harry Potter.  

[ Parent ]

lifeless audio and video streams (none / 1) (#26)
by dimaq on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:36:45 AM EST

I suppose what makes books lifeless is in fact lack of interaction. what makes books interesting is incomplete immersion allowing for imagination. either way your audio and video streams are hardly any better than books.

[ Parent ]
Non-interactive? (none / 0) (#39)
by Gooba42 on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 03:05:02 AM EST

Lack of interaction? Like a letter from a loved one is a lack of interaction?

A book is interaction between an author and a reader (and editor and publisher if you really want to go crazy with it). Everyday practical experience can only teach you non-abstracts which don't give you anything from which to build new non-abstracts.

You can't build a chair out of chairs without missing the point of thing thing.

[ Parent ]

thing thing? wassat? (none / 0) (#49)
by dimaq on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 05:06:36 AM EST

regardless, *uni*directional glyph-stream is not *inter*action.

[ Parent ]
There are a ton of them (none / 0) (#19)
by Mathemagician on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 11:14:37 PM EST

I think... I no longer know my age in most of my childhood memories, but these come to mind.

Lots of books by Bruce Coville, especially the My Teacher is an Alien series.
The first four books in the Bunnicula series.
A Wrinkle in Time, and sequels. I re-read that a couple years back, and discovered that it's strangely similar to C.S. Lewis' Perelandra trilogy.

Mostly sci-fi (none / 0) (#43)
by Verteiron on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 01:29:09 PM EST

And here I was starting to think I was the only one who'd heard of the My Teacher is an Alien books. What's funny about those books is that so many people think they're "anti-teacher" when in fact they are exactly the opposite... I read The Phantom Tollbooth somewhere around age 8. I was also reading the bits I could understand from Cosmos. Somewhere around that age I read most of the Narnia books, along with The Hobbit. I also remember reading a series about a kid named Barney and this alien friend of his named Tibbo, though I have no idea what the series was called. There were several of them, though, and eventually Barney wound up before an alien tribunal for kidnapping his friend's dog or something. Strange books but I loved them at the time. I think it was about that age when I read the Mushroom Planet books.
Prisoners! Seize each other!
[ Parent ]
The Phantom Tollbooth (none / 0) (#44)
by Mathemagician on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 06:59:40 PM EST

Oh, that book was great! Though I didn't read it 'til this year, I did see the film adaptation sometime near 8 years old.

[ Parent ]
the movie (none / 0) (#54)
by Verteiron on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 10:13:24 AM EST

Sadly, the film discouraged many people from the book... Chuck Jones made it into a musical and whoever wrote the script cut most of the important scenes from the book. The best description I've seen for the movie came from someone's review on IMDB... "Like 90 minutes of Grammar Rock". I will say, though, that they portrayed Dr. Dischord perfectly. Supposedly there was a new version of the movie in the works but I've heard nothing about it for years.
Prisoners! Seize each other!
[ Parent ]
That's weird, I remember liking the movie (none / 0) (#55)
by Mathemagician on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 11:48:12 AM EST

Then again, I also used to listen to Meatloaf.

[ Parent ]
wrinkle (none / 0) (#64)
by eudas on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 07:00:05 PM EST

oh, yes, A Wrinkle In Time was wonderful, though, as with other books, I understood it quite poorly compared with my ability to understand it as an adult. It's still a great book, though, just like the Narnia series. But a child's understanding of a story and an adult's are quite interesting to compare/contrast...

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

oddly enough (none / 1) (#20)
by wampswillion on Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 11:39:38 PM EST

one of the books i loved most at the age of 8 was a book called "doris and the trolls"

it was an adventure of a little girl named doris and her little sister peggy encountering a land full of obnoxious trolls.  and doris and peggy had to get scissors from a fairy and cut queen something or other's slimy green hair in order to escape the troll-land under the bridge.  

this probably explains a lot... (none / 1) (#23)
by livus on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:06:07 AM EST

my favourite books were

Lace by Shirley Conran.
The Phantom comics
The Thousand Nights and One Night (unabridged, Richard Burton version)

when I was 9 someone accidently gave me a copy of Human Sexual Response by Masters and Johnson. I quite liked the graphs, and as I was very fond of nature documentaries the terminology didn't bother me. I remember being exceedingly irritated when some adults finally confiscated it.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Not to diminish your accomplishment, (none / 1) (#38)
by bamcquern on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 02:53:45 AM EST

but Burton's Arabian Nights is
16 volumes and very expensive. Most
Burton anthologies of Nights are about a
thousand pages, though, and I admit that,
at eight, I wouldn't understand a tenth
of what I read.

When I was eight, nine, ten, I read crap,
and I read it way too fast. I remember reading
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E.
in the fourth grade and only
comprehending it well enough to get by in
class. When I was in middle school, I read
a lot of juvi fiction books, and I still do.
I've learned to read much more slowly, and
believe that style is the function of most
writing, even non-fiction. Crucially,
content informs style, but reading always
reduces itself to a concrete experience from
which readers and authors cannot excape. This
excludes a lot of sf from my reading list,
but I still buy it like a fiend. As far as
juvi fiction goes, I read Konigsberg, Peterson,
Kerr, Sachar, etc., at least once a year.
Writing for children can be lean, like poetry.

And, no, I don't only read kid's books,
like I've seemed to suggest. For example,
I'm reading currently Rupert Brooke's poems.


[ Parent ]

I don't understand your point (none / 1) (#56)
by livus on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 08:39:06 PM EST

it was a great many volumes, that was the appeal.

And I'm willing to bet I didn't get through the half of it in all the years I was reading it, much less at that age.

I'm not sure why you think I was trying to claim it as an "accomplishment"? If you're a bored kid staying in a house with no kids' books you'll read anything. I found a lot of it quite peculiar. Certain parts of it pertaining to pre-pubescent girls and forced castrations disturb me to this day.

I'm not sure what your point is about the expensiveness of the books, either. God knows where they got them from - looked old. I bought a fantastic encyclopaedia set from the 1930s once for $1 per volume.

Yeah, I think we're just not on the same page here.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Post-hurricane reply. (none / 0) (#57)
by bamcquern on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 01:38:11 AM EST

The clarification is appreciated about the
Burton volumes--they're usually private
pressings, and not at all common, unlike
encyclopedias, which, dispite their vintage,
have always been available for the price you
quoted. I can say with almost complete
certainty that the Nights books were sought
specifically, unlike your encyclopedias, and that
their subscription rate or total purchase price
would also far outstrip the retail value of the
encyclopedias, both reasons why price is a
non-trivial detail.

Prodigous eight year olds read Burton, so
why pretend that you don't belong to that
class, why pretend that no distinction
exists between writing that, however adult in
subject, an eight year old can easily scan,
and writing that, despite its association
with enchantment and adventure, can be very
difficult for many literate adults to parse?
I don't see how it isn't an accomplishment,
and I'm not sure if you speak disingenuously—
if you play a semantic game I don't know—or
if you've reached a mature age without anyone
mentioning to you your exceptional intelligence.
My tone was not one of incredulity, although
I didn't believe that you had sixteen volumes
at hand for reason of probability, and the
reason that you did not mention the extraordinary
fact, but I don't doubt any k5 reader's claim to
having capricious and talented habits of reading
at the age of eight, and yours is hardly dubious.
I know that when I was eight, I could only
comprehend the most basic prose, and I
thought I told that part clearly, but I've
met enough prodigies not to disbelieve
their existence.

And I think you probably understood my
point, but it should be much clearer, now.

[ Parent ]

Bizarrely enough (none / 0) (#58)
by livus on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 04:20:23 AM EST

I actually know someone who has a collection of different editions of that thing. I haven't seen any of them though; I made the mistake of renting Day of the Triffids as an adult and it just wasn't how I remembered it.

You're probably right, and as they were never even in one place and had to be hunted for, I couldn't say with any certainty what form they took (the Burton detail captured my attention at the time because I thought it had something to do with Elizabeth Taylor).

I don't think there's anything exceptional about being able to read; I was taught how to read well before the age of 5, and I don't think it's all that uncommon for people to continue... my sibling was the same. More a matter of practice than anything else.

I do realise that some people have problems with the forms writing takes (Shakespeare and the king james bible spring to mind) but I've always put it down to their late start at reading - surely it's no different to anything else.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

oops, sorry (none / 0) (#59)
by livus on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 04:22:24 AM EST

reading over my other comment to you it does sound disingenous and that isn't how I meant it.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram = (none / 0) (#24)
by bankind on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:14:36 AM EST

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

I hated reading. (1.25 / 4) (#25)
by dimaq on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:32:51 AM EST

I still don't like to read pointless stuff, the example of which the book you are talking about most likely is and your article definitely is.

later I read lotr.

-1, Circle Jerk. (1.12 / 8) (#28)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 12:06:00 PM EST

I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

at 8... (none / 0) (#29)
by daystar on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 01:24:07 PM EST

Hard to say. Lot's of LotR and Narnia books and whatnot.

At 10, someone gave me a complete set of Tarzan books. Those were spectacular.

And then at 13, my family visited some friends in Denver, and one of them gave me a BOX of old Asimov and Analog science-fiction magazines. In retrospect, I owe him a LOT.

There is no God, and I am his prophet.
Hard to remember really (none / 0) (#30)
by The Diary Section on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 07:43:28 PM EST

The one I take forward with me now from that time is The Box of Delights (When the Wolves Were Running), by John Masefield.

Its a surprisingly strange book featuring warring ancient secret societies, Herne the Hunter and most notably, a supernaturally evil vicar called Abner Brown (who can turn into a wolf...). The titular box is put in the care of the super-posh "Master" Kay Harker by a weird Punch and Judy man and he travels to various historical and mythical incidents whilst pursued by the bad guys who want the box for themselves. More spoilerful take on it, via the BBC version, here.

In the best tradition of Christmas related books, its set in the Christmas holidays and comes to a climax on Christmas Eve. Its not really what one imagines finding in a 1930s book for children, but its pretty engaging stuff. I'm not sure what the point of it is, its sounds like it should have some sort of Pullman/Lewisian agenda but I don't think it has. Its just a story I think (am I missing something blindingly obvious?). All the business of Harker being warned "the wolves are running" amidst news reports of "wild dogs roaming the countryside" was (and frankly still is actually) pretty sinister.

The BBC did a decent adaptation in the 1980s although its a little heavy on the "electronic paintbox" special effects (I believe this was shown in the US). The opening titles on the linked page sort of sums up the menacing air of the piece which isn't helped by the fact I find the Edwardian setting in and of itself a bit sinister. I'll probably read it at some point over the festive period.

Masefield's fiction is not really that appreciated now (I couldn't find very much on the web about it, despite his being poet laureate at one time) so I thought I'd give him a shout out here. I'd recommend it to anyone (and their kids) as a bit of snow-flecked December reading ideal for a chapter a night if you can time it so you finish on Christmas Eve. For a 1930s book its not as "accidentally" offensive as some are although Kay Harker is a posh kid and gets a lot of cap doffing and unearned respect put his way by maids and railways porters and so on. I suppose it is a little heavy on the Englishness so that might be a problem if you are very sensitive to that.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.

Romanian reading... (3.00 / 3) (#31)
by Gutza on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 08:00:11 PM EST

I've spent my childhood in communist Romania (I still live here, but the politics have changed; for some chronology context, I'm now 30). So I didn't have access to any Western mainstream entertainment sources.

We did have the occasional Tom & Jerry on TV, along with Disney stuff mostly in cinemas. We had next to no comics -- and the few that were available were local. I used to envy other children who owned collections of Tarzan or Pif (French comics magazine).

The traditional childen books in my time were usually the Grimm stories, along with local ones -- mostly without any pictures (generally only books for infants had pictures).

The Romanian traditional youth book was the local "Ciresarii" series ("The Cherry Gang", where "cherry" is indeed the fruit) -- a feel-good, wholesome read for a 12-14 year-old; it consisted of some 5-6 books; each book was indeed a novel, not a collection of short stories.

My favourite as a child however was a book I found in the attic. It was a book without covers -- probably worn out, I don't know, fact is I only know that book in its coverless form. Quite a thick book too -- some 2 inches thick, the way I remember it. The title was something like "Italian Stories", or something similar -- but definitely Italian, not another nation. The preface said something like "this is not a book for good children -- it's a book for smart children". I sure fell for that one. The book did indeed contain very original stories, and most were quite imaginative. And more than 90% were quite gruesome too: I still remember one scene, after the main character and his friend went to sleep in a house haunted by the Devil (no less!), the main character wakes up to the sound of the Devil's voice trying to intimidate him while he was throwing bloody limbs torn from his friend's body down the chimney. Truth be said, this was one of the most gruesome stories in the book -- but anyway, presenting a child with such a plot sounds absurd today. However, apart from being followed by that image in my 30s, I experience no side effects -- maybe except for the need to sacrifice babies on full moon nights.

Who's your vendor, who's your vendor? — Scott Adams
time is K5
micutie in Romania (none / 0) (#53)
by Battle Troll on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 08:45:54 AM EST

Nu stiu de ce, dar sotia mea a fost adictata la Tom si Jerry cand iera mica.

Iti amintesti de o jucarie despre Dacii si Romanii?
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

"micutie"?! :-) (none / 0) (#70)
by Gutza on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 05:43:18 PM EST

adictata=>dependenta. Yes, I was addicted to T&J too, but it was so rare, and the episodes were so repetitive that it made the whole thing extremely frustrating. But yes, I can confirm that in my age group, the most addicting cartoon in Romania was most probably Tom & Jerry.

I remember Dacii si Romanii -- it was intended as a board game, but my two year senior neighbour I wanted to play the game with was a pretty creative (read "crazy/destructive") person, so he insisted on not reading the instructions, but rather hitting each other's figures with some plastic coin-like things provided with the game: to this day I don't know how the game was supposed to be played. I mean, the guy was a couple of years older than me, and when you're 10 or 12, that makes a hell of a difference.

Who's your vendor, who's your vendor? — Scott Adams
time is K5
[ Parent ]

Dangerous Visions... (none / 1) (#35)
by Alien zombie on Sun Oct 23, 2005 at 03:57:40 AM EST

a thick sci-fi anthology
Lots of Asimov & Heinlein
Some Clarke
The Complete Sherlock Holmes
Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators mystery series
Curious George series
Assorted Dr. Seuss

I learned to read when I was 4. . . (none / 0) (#36)
by IHCOYC on Sun Oct 23, 2005 at 08:34:34 PM EST

. . . and remember reading Dr. Seuss and a book about Huckleberry Hound, and a story about someone who was granted three wishes by a genie, and his final wish was for more wishes, and so forth.

But the book I remember most is a 1954 printing of the Encyclopedia Americana, which I spent hours musing over. Them, and National Geographics, from the early to mid 1960s. I seem to remember that the first issue I remember reading was from like 1964, and had a large article about cats in it. Thanks to these books and magazines, I learned a great deal about whales and dinosaurs, my earliest interests. I know the dates and reigns of the British kings and queens better than I know the American presidents; the royals just seemed more interesting. I could spell Australopithecus at a very early age.

I was always happiest musing over a book, usually constructing some kind of elaborate fantasy about some person from ancient history or some powerful and dangerous scientific discovery. Kings and pharaohs and dinosaurs were my superheroes. If I didn't have these books, no doubt I would have found some other isolating and obsessive activity to immerse myself in, but the stuff I used to pore over was more useful than other such activities might have been.
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit G

White Fang, by Jack London (none / 0) (#37)
by Tau Neutrino on Sun Oct 23, 2005 at 11:02:49 PM EST

I had read Call of the Wild when I was seven, and wanted more.
Theater is life, cinema is art, television is furniture.
I was 8 in 81... (none / 0) (#40)
by toychicken on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 04:48:39 AM EST

Let's see, I think I was still probably reading a lot of Narnia, Hobbit and LOTR. However, I did also spend a long time reading paleontology books. I was obsessed with dinosaurs.

I'm intrigued to see that there's alot of escapist fantasy fiction in the list here. Do we think this is a reflection of the sort of literature available for children, or of the sort of people that make comments in K5?

Have just read 'Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time' which is allegedly for kids... it was very odd. Good, but odd.

- - - - - - -8<- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Just how many is a Brazillian anyway?

Books??? (none / 0) (#42)
by schrotie on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 10:54:47 AM EST

All you guys read books when you were eight? Fascinating. When I was eight I could hardly read. I entered school when I was six - the usual age in Germany. Two months later was my seventh birthday, so at eight I had one year of reading experience. I think I hadn't even had learned typeface letters, only script letters.

If I read anything at that age (I doubt it) it was comics: Asterix and Tim & Struppi (Rin tin tin or something like that in the original). When I could recite these I started my first book which was "Luke the engine driver", a very popular German children's book, a real novel though. Ensuing were other children's books, some fantasy, Steven King in later teenage years and finally quite some of the old classics.

Finding myself in the company of people who read Dune and LotR when they were eight is somewhere from embarrassing to ridiculous.

schnappi (none / 0) (#50)
by tkatchevzombie on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 05:59:21 AM EST

das kleine Krokodil

[ Parent ]
and yet they manage to wind up (none / 0) (#52)
by Battle Troll on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 08:41:57 AM EST

Such stupid adults. How??
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
reading (none / 0) (#63)
by eudas on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 06:57:12 PM EST

Don't feel too bad. I read "Dune" when I was 8, and, while i got most of it, looking back i realize that there was still a large amount of stuff that I didn't get simply because of how young i was. I'm still proud of myself for reading it at such a young age, but I wouldn't say that not having read it at age 8 is anything to be embarrassed about. Reading sparks the imaginations of people at different stages of their life.

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Eight years old... (none / 0) (#45)
by Sgt York on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 08:13:01 PM EST

I would have been in 3rd grade.

At that time, I loved Jack London. I got hooked with Call of the Wild, and I still get cold when I think about "To Start a Fire".

I also had a really nice lithographed Jules Verne compilation that my grandfather gave me. It had short stories and several novels all in one big black book, it was great.

I discovered Bradbury in fifth grade, I remember that very well. I absorbed just about everything he had written in the span of a year, and now hardly remember Farenheit 451.

In fourth grade, reading took a downturn....I got my first modem, and my reading habits changed considerably.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.

childhood reading (none / 0) (#47)
by tzanger on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 11:10:45 PM EST

I'm 30, and these are the books that stick in my mind from childhood:
  • How to Eat Fried Worms
  • So You Want to be a Magician series
  • Sounder
  • Charlotte's Web
and then as I got older
  • Douglas Adams (HHGGTG but also his Dirk Gently series)
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Ice Nine and Slaughterhouse V are the big ones)
Right now I'm just remembering the Dirk Gently story where the Loki, Norse god of Mischief glues Thor to the floor.  :-)

It's been a while since I've read for pure pleasure.. most of my reading is technical in nature, and has been for many years now.  I kind of miss it, I've been making a point to pick up some old favourites and read a few pages at a time.

I really like this article, and many of the comments...  very nostalgic.

"Ice Nine" book title (none / 0) (#51)
by The Rizz on Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 08:31:06 AM EST

The title of the book is actually Cat's Cradle. I do have to agree that it is one of the greatest books of all time.

[ Parent ]
Depends on what country you're in I believe. (none / 0) (#60)
by BJH on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 09:53:49 AM EST

I seem to recall that there were two variant titles for that book.
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Yes you're absolutely right. n/t (none / 0) (#61)
by tzanger on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 06:44:12 PM EST

[ Parent ]
what i was reading when i was 8 (none / 0) (#62)
by eudas on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 06:54:44 PM EST

i was devouring all the Hardy boys series of books, and, when i ran out of that, i read one of the books that my mother was reading. It was Frank Herbert's "Dune".

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat

What I've read (none / 0) (#65)
by strlen on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 11:54:25 PM EST

What I've read in my childhood and what deeply influenced me:

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
Mysterious Island, by Jules Verne
The Children Of Captain Grant, by Jules Verne
Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twaine
Some compilation book called ``Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece'' (the content should be obvious)
Illiad, Odyssey by Homer.
Lot of Yu. Lermontov
Countless textbooks left behind by my older brother (who is sixteen years my elder) (and from my grandmother, who was a literature teacher)

The first three books got me deeply interested in ``how things worked'' (as it showed the characters trying to create a civilization from nothing). Mysterious Island, particularly was strong in that respect -- it led me to want to learn physics (which I did from my brother's highschool textbooks). From then on, I've developed a fascination with science driven by curiosity; that would led me to borrow [non-fiction] books from the library, read them, look at the bibliography, borrow books mentioned there, so forth... This lasted untill I was approximately fourteen years of age; at that point I've become more adept at using Internet (which just burst on the scene) to feed my curiosity. But these fiction books were the first ones that led me to asking the right questions -- questions, without attempting to answering which, I would have been left with a far more vacuous mind.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

My Dad's reading list (none / 0) (#67)
by shmert on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 06:09:40 PM EST

I remember when I was probably 12 or so, my Dad and I were waiting in the brown Datsun out in front of the supermarket, and for some reason he picks this moment to show me this list he'd compiled when he was a kid of all the books he would read.

Maybe it was the timing, or I was just too young, but I fear I was a little phlegmatic about the list.  I wish now I'd looked at it more, or better yet, had a list of my own.  I do remember some biography of Chrisopher Columbus on there, and probably Robinson Crusoe as well.

I read a ton when I was a kid, as we didn't have a TV.  Still don't.  Thank God!  One book I remember reading over and over and over was "Parsival" by Richard Monaco.  Anyone remember that one?

[ Parent ]

Interesting that this (none / 0) (#69)
by Grayworld on Wed Nov 02, 2005 at 12:31:02 AM EST

guy chose to go the Hari Kari route (according to his Wiki entry, that's how he came to the disembowling). How many non japanese people have you ever heard of ending it that way?

His note seems to be aimed at inspiring guilt in his lifetime tormenters. How sadly futile are the suicidal-to think others really give a damn about having so tormented another human being to the point of suicide.

How insanely futile to think, as perhaps this guy did, that choosing a most gruesome and ritualistic self butchering might inspire even more guilt.

Fact is, his tomenters probably only regretted that he wasn't around to rip off anymore.

Fair but a bit unbalanced to be sure!

Childhood readings | 70 comments (64 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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