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Reading Memories

One of my earliest memories is not of reading but of being read to. My mother, I realize now, was remarkable and wonderful in introducing books a little above my actual reading level by reading them out loud to me at bedtime. So, I clearly remember her reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to me when we arrived in Canada when I was seven. We stayed at Sproat Lake with my Great Aunt in a bona fide log cabin, and my mother read C S Lewis to me at bedtime. I wept when Aslan was killed, and she reassured me that somehow everything would turn out all right. And it did.

Little traitor, I loved it when my father read out loud to me, which he seldom did. Whether it was the novelty, or whether it was those Emery acting genes, it always seemed to me that my father's reading was more exciting and lively than my mother's.

Once I started reading for myself, a recurring theme was my effort to escape the strictures of bedtime. I was given a torch (flashlight) for my birthday or Christmas shortly before we left England, and that would have allowed me to read under the covers except that my mum was wise to me. Efforts to turn my bedside light on again after I'd been "settled down" for the night were thwarted by my parents spotting the light under my bedroom door. The best thing was, once we came to Canada, the yearly ritual of putting coloured lights on the house at Christmastime. I don't think my parents ever realized how bright those lights were, and how they allowed me to read delightedly for long stretches of time after my official "lights out."

Later, when we moved down to Victoria, I remember the Saturday ritual of going to the library. At that time, the main branch of the library was in the old Carnegie building on Douglas and Yates. We would go every Saturday morning, and I would get my limit of eight books. Then we would go a couple of doors down to the English Sweetshop, and I would buy "scotties" candy with my pocket money. Then, at home, I spent a blissful
afternoon munching my candies and reading one, if not two, of my library books.

Then, there was the Book Exchange. You took in four paperback books and you could walk out with two. Wondrous.

And do you remember the Scholastic book club? You ordered from a catalogue, then on one afternoon at school the teacher unpacked a big box and you went home with two or three or four new paperback books. Some memorable Scholastic books I "bought" were Shadow Castle, Grey Magic by Andre Norton, and Understood Betsy.

So many books, so much time. The long hours of childhood - the long summer holidays, the Saturday afternoons that stretched forever. And endless books, still undiscovered. Bliss.
Tags: books, memories, reading
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  • RIP Ray Bradbury

    I wanted to write something about Ray Bradbury

  • The Weakness in Me

    Robinson's death has hit me hard. Also, the general feeling of doglessness. I haven't been without a dog, except for when on holiday, for eighteen…

  • Profound Gifts

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