Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tock Ticks and Milo Gets Hungrier

I like to read.

That isn't a suprise to anyone who knows me. In the last few years it might be a surprise to some people who only barely know me. That's sad. Because I really like to read.

One of my first books, but not the right cover
I can't help it. On the road I read almost anything that flies by at reading speed, which is almost everything unless Darling is driving and we're late for a movie. In that case my eyes are usually closed anyway.

For a period in the mid-1990s I tried to read a book a week. By the end of the year I did better than that. I wrote the titles down in my planner as I read them.

When I first started reading, I didn't care about titles and authors - I just read whatever I could get my hands on. I read The Two Towers before I read The Fellowship of the Ring. I learned that it's a great idea to remember who you've read and what the titles were, because other people read also, and then you can talk to them about the books. (A novel concept for me, pun intended.) I also realized if I liked one book by an author, I'd probably like their other books, so I started reading by author, in bulk.

But I didn't always read.

When I was very young I wasn't interested in reading books. I told stories. I was an Stone-Age Shaman telling tales, but with no interest in passing them on or whether anyone listened. My Great-Grandmother, I think, gave me a book. Perhaps it was my Great-Aunt. Either way, the book sat on my shelf and collected dust and I gave it no further thought. All the rest of the books in the house did the same, the internal pages never seeing the light of day. Books were decorations, not treasures, of no interest at all.

Then we moved and that book somehow ended up in the car with me. I think we were moving from Rhode Island to Washington State. Perhaps my Great-Aunt gave me the book when we stopped in Michigan to visit. Maybe that's why it was in the car with me, and I only dreamed of it sitting on the shelf watching me.

I didn't want to read it. For one thing, the cover looked funny. The pictures weren't all that good. Who cared about the story after all?

That was one LONG trip, and I was so bored that I read the book out of desperation. I loved it.

The Phantom Tollbooth turns fifty, only a few short years after I did. So Happy Birthday Milo, the boy who ate subtraction soup and taught me division in a few short paragraphs. Happy Birthday to Tock, the watchdog who goes "tick." The same to the other great characters: the Humbug, Canby and all the others.

This has been a fascinating, and word-filled, half-century.

1 comment:

  1. I've been Phantom Tollbooth-ing lately. It seems like a perfect book whenever I come back to it. Does that ever happen to you, in your word-filled half century, where your brain demands that you MUST reread this book or that? You hunt forever for the book and start skimming through the pages and there, right where you need it, is the quote that your brain thought might do you a bit of good.

    Well, my Phantom Tollbooth adventure didn't start like that. It was a TV Tropes trip that ended up on the Terrible Trivium. (Yes, I love all of those T's.) And then I was back with the Phantom Tollbooth, and Milo, "who didn't know what to do with himself, not just sometimes, but always."

    I think I'll reread that this summer.

    Love you!