Growing up, all the books in the house were my father’s. My mother was not a reader. Certainly as we kids learned to read we had our own books but they were children’s books. I actually don’t remember having books of my own until I was 8 or so. When I was 4, and could print my name, I got my first library card.
When I was 11 my father signed me up for the children’s Book of the Month Club. That didn’t last long because my father got all pissed that they were sending “baby” books. By the time I was 11 I was reading at high school level (in 6th grade my reading level was 10.6). The only reason I knew I was 11 is because I still have two books from that time – “The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek” and “The Garden Under the Sea” and someone wrote my name and the date on the inside of the books.
I started writing stories when I was 8 or so – we were living in Queens and that’s how I date a lot of things – by where we living. Thing was I didn’t know how to write dialogue. I remember that so vividly. I wrote a story about my toys talking to each other and used the playwriting format for conversations between the narrative – like this –
Rabbit: Blah blah blah
Doggie: blah blah blah
I was familiar with plays because one of my father’s books was “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare”. I think the book weighed more than I did and it had – still has because I still have the book – beautiful illustrations. I loved that book but as smart as I was I couldn’t make heads or tails out of Shakespeare.
Somewhere along the line I found the book “Tales of Shakespeare” by William and Mary Lamb. They put the plays into story form for children. Aha! I would read the story then read the play. I’m sure it took many readings before I made sense of it all but I wound up falling in love with Shakespeare. So yeah, I’m 12 years old devouring the old Bard. (And yes, I am predictable – my favorite play is MacBeth. I actually memorized the whole play and acted out all the parts. I spent most of my youth in my room talking to the mirror.)
This will never leave my possession – too many memories…and yes, I do still refer to it when I need to. It won’t take too much more handling, it’s being held together with scotch tape and love.
So here it is – my father’s copy of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” published 1936 by the Garden City Publishing Company (which was a Doubleday subsidiary that re-printed cheaper editions of Doubleday books.)