Bookish ramble

3 Oct 2007

Time for Reading by Judy Gibson

When I was a girl I loved books and had a reputation for being a bookworm. I did lots of other things too; knitting, swimming training, sewing, mucking around with friends, all the usual stuff but I found my home in books. I didn't have to read quickly , sometimes I paced myself to make the experience last longer. As a teenager I would find a new ( to me) author and become besotted, needing to read everything they wrote. I always tried to find biographies of my current favourite so that I could truly bathe in their world. I loved reading and I still do. I don't come from a family of great readers, my mother read magazines mostly with the occasional novel in the summer holidays. I've never seen my father read anything but the newspaper. My brother detested all reading except non fiction books especially cricket books and my sister loved me to read to her but didn't become a reader until she was an adult, she reads crime fiction.

When I was twelve, in first year high school I discovered and adored Louisa May Alcott and everything she wrote but most especially "Little Women" . I read her biography and I was sold, I even gave a talk about her at school and won first prize. I also fell under the spell of Charlotte Bronte through "Jane Eyre" and again read Charlotte's biography and cried at the sadness of both the novel and the life.

Girl Reading Book

I moved on to F Scott Fitzgerald, loved him, I still do. Loved "Tender is the Night", so beautiful , so elegant. I read all about Fitzgerald and Zelda and cried at the sadness of their lives. I adore his short stories especially "The Cut Glass Bowl".

Sometime around age fifteen I found "Catcher in the Rye" and loved it , though I never did read any biographies of JD Salinger.

Girl Reading by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

When I was around eighteen I read the novels and plays of Oscar Wilde and found him very entertaining and of course his life story was terribly sad.

Then when I left home I moved on to D. H. Lawrence. So many beautiful words, I loved "The Rainbow" and "Women in Love" and "Sons and Lovers". I wasn't so keen on "Lady Chatterly's Lover". And of course Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" was wonderful. I have never read much about D.H.Lawrence but I believe many aspects of his novels were based on his own life.

Apart from re reading some of Fitzgerald's short stories I haven't revisited any of these books from my teen years. I still have them all, they are on my book shelf. Only two of them were books I was required to read for school,"Catcher in the Rye" and "Jane Eyre". The others found me the way good books often do. Maybe it's time to start going through them again and seeing them through an older woman's eyes. It will be interesting I think.

I never studied English Literature at University so I don't have all the words for a literary analysis but I do know even now how these books made me feel, how they touched something deep inside me and opened me to another way of thinking, gave me an experience of another life. A good book does that, it stays with you because it changes you and becomes a part of who you are. And I think the way they change us is unique for each person because we all come from our own special place with our own set of experiences.

I'm sure there were many others from my teen years but the books and authors I've mentioned are the ones that stand out in my mind as the big novels . There were many favourites before them and many more after, through my twenties and beyond. I don't know what kind of books other teenage girls in the 1970s read because none of my friends were very interested in books, it wasn't discussed.
What were your favourite books when you were a teenager?

Quiet Read

21 Responses to “Bookish ramble”

  1. I did do English Lit and strangely only really remember my course books, but when I was a child I read and read and read. The one criteria, a horse or pony had to feature in the book somewhere.

  2. I read Jane Austen for the first time in high school. I remember not wanting to read it AT ALL but then opening it up and absolutely loving every moment of it.

    I wish I'd kept a list of everything I read in high school.

  3. I loved Anne of Green Gables, Girl of the Limberlost, Little Women to name a few.

  4. Hi Jenny, I am a book nut too! Where did you find those lovely pictures? My first great reading experience was "Gread Expectations" which I had to read in year 10. The only other classics I have read are Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, I loved all of them, I think I shall have to add some of the classics to my current reading list. I also enjoy some non-fiction, especially those on frugal living! Loved Affluenza. This year I read a lovely "duo" of books by Tony Parsons, the first one "Call of the High Country" and "Return to the High Country", they will never with the Booker Prize, but really lovely storis, set in Aussie outback. Great reads.

  5. Jenny:

    I found your blog a few months ago through Jewels and have been a daily reader since, but not a commenter. However, I couldn't resist today because you wrote of so many of my favorite authors; I loved this post! I have been an obsessive reader since I was three and I was reading many of the same things as a teenager: Fitzgerald (my very favorite), D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, Barbara Pym, Leo Tolstoy, etc. I went on to get my university degree in English Lit and taught it until my first child was born. (Now I am a stay home mom of 4 with one more on the way!)

    I am always interested in a good Australian author (I am an American, but my husband is an Aussie.), but haven't read much other than Tim Winton's "Cloudstreet;" do you have any other recommendations?

  6. Hi Carolyn, I read a lot of horsey books as a child too. I liked the Pullein Thompson sisters books.

    Hi Brenda, I read Pride and Prejudice at school and also Sense and Sensibility but they never really captured my heart. Maybe I should give them another try. I love the S&S movie though perhaps that was because of Emma Thompson.

    Hi Niki, I have never actually read Anne of Green Gables though I have the books and loved the TV series. My best friend used to live on a farm called Limberlost.

    Hi Jill, the pictures are from Allposters. If you click on any of them they will take you to the Allposters site. I never really got into Dickens though I read Great Expectations. I suspect I was infatuated with another author at the time and Charlie didn't stand a chance.
    I've read Affluenza and loved it. Like you I have been reading a lot more non fiction these days but I think it is time for a change.

    Hi Carina, nice to meet you. You're very lucky to have an Australian husband. Lovely to find another Fitzgerald fan. I didn't read much Austalian adult fiction until I was in my twenties and living in the heart of bookshop territory in Melbourne. There is a wonderful book called Poppy by Drusilla Modjeska that I have read many times, in fact I have enjoyed all of her books. Some of David Fosters books are good and there is a very strange book by Rodney Hall called Just Relations that has always stayed with me particularly the image of a room where everything has been knitted. We have a lot of Tim Winton books and Christina Stead that my husband likes and David Malouf also. Of course there are many others but that's a start.

  7. I did not become a reader until I had my own children and began reading aloud to them. I grew up in a non-reading family too and I confess that I hated to read.

    After Beatrix Potter and Milne and Mother Goose (when my children were young) I graduated to Little Women, A Girl of Limberlost, Little Britches (a set), Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, and Anne of Green Gables. I think that I'm still in my "teenage years" of reading! (and loving it)


  8. Great post Jenny. I loved all the LM Montogmery books (Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon especially), Jane Austen, the Brontes, the Nora of Billabong series (good Aussie books!), the Little Women series, the Judy Blume books (so honest!).

    As for Australian books, Kate Grenville and Geraldine Brooks are great (along with Tim Winton).

  9. Hello Jenny, I have always been an avid reader although my tastes have changed somewhat over the years there are a few absolute favourites that I stille love. I love all the LM Montgomery books, Pollyanna, Little Women, Jane Austen - my favourites are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. I love Elizabeth Goudge but not all her books as I find some of them a bit ponderous - my favourites are the Elliott trilogy (Bird in the tree, Herb of Grace aka Pilgrim Inn and Heart of the Family) and Scent of Water is absolutely delightful. I love Susan Hill's Magic Apple Tree. The Miss Read books and I have recently discovered Lillian Beckwith and love all her books about her time in the Scottish hebrides. Agatha Christie is good also. But the authors I have read, names just swirl around in my head.

    The writer Franz Kafta wrote that "a book should be an axe to break the frozen sea within". I would place "The sound of one hand clapping" into that category. I can only read one or two books like that each year. Literature can have the capacity to change us and once read stays with us forever.

    Anyway ramble, ramble, ramble. Thanks for the thoughtful post Jenny, you truly are a kindred spirit :o) Warmly, Mrs MacKenzie

  10. I always enjoyed reading! As a child I enjoyed the "Nancy Drew" series and "Grace Livingstone Hill.
    Ruth, PA

  11. Hi Jenny, what a great question!

    Looking back, I hadn't realised it but as a young teenager I was into a lot of Australian literature especially Mavis Thorpe Clarke (reading everything I could lay my hands on and especially enjoying 'Blue Above the Trees' - as an adult I had the pleasure of living in Gippsland where it is set); Colin Thiele (introduced via English in the first year of high school - in particular 'February Dragon'); Marcus Clarke's 'For the Term of his Natural Life' (I could not put this down, even reading it under my desk at school). I loved the 'Anne' books by L.M. Montgomery; I could go on, but I think my absolute favourite from my teenage years was 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte ... (I still re-read it with great fondness).

    I had never reflected just on the books of this time of my life before, so thanks for the prompt.

  12. Hi Jenny: Oh yes, how I remember those titles. I read Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew as a child and then I moved on to light romance novels until I read Tess of The D'Ubervilles which turned me around, I loved it. I remember The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne as being fabulous.


  13. My teenager years books were Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment among many others. Like you I have always been a bookworm, but the teenage years especially were a voyage of discovery... One book lead to another one, which lead to another author, another culture...

  14. Ohhhhh Jenny i studied English Lit at college and yes Tess of the Durbervilles was a was Shakespeare but reading for me opens many doors.......currently im reading the "Elm Creek Novels" (just for the quilting) and Stephanie Meyers Trilogy "just to keep in touch with the teenagers".........its funny where reading takes u, but if its something u enjoy then anything is possible.........embrace it!!! Hugs

  15. Jenny,
    I woman after my own heart. I love to read always have. My mom bought me my first horse to get me out of the chair in my room. I was allowed to read only the clssics when I was younger, until I started sneaking in Nancy Drew & Trixie Beldon. The Secret Garden and Ann of Green Gables were my constant compainons. Louisa May Alcott kept me company in the barn . I walked the beaches with Robinson Cruso, & the Swiss Family Robinson . Thanks for the reminder of how my favorite past time came to bs.

  16. Jenny, I'm an avid reader too; I prefer fantasy novels, though. As a teenager, I adored Narnia and LOTR - still do. :)

  17. As teenagers my two sisters and I always seemed to have a book in front of our noses. We even read as we walked around in the house, while we cleaned our teeth, ate breakfast etc. etc.

    Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters were favourites and after reading Oliver Twist at school I read more of Charles Dickens' books and loved them. i think I appreciated them more though when I read them as an adult.

    Cloudstreet is my all time favourite book which I reread every so often and I love all of Tim Winton's other books too.

  18. Hi Jody, children bring all sorts of wonderful gifts and one of them is the chance to read all the books you missed out on as a child. Thanks to my children I have read The Little House on the Prairie series, The Wind in the Willows,Blinky Bill,Snuggle pot and Cuddle Pie and many others.

    Hi Jane, have you read Kate Grenville"s Dreamhouse, I loved that.

    Hi Mrs Mackenzie, That Franz Kafka quote is one of my husband's favourites. I did get Elizabeth Goudge's Herb of Grace out of the library but didn't get round to reading it before it had to go back. I thought Susan Hill's Magic Apple Tree was wonderful. Did you know that she has a blog?

    Hi Ruth, yes I read a few Nancy Drew books and Trixie Belden as well.

    Hi Kathy, I'm ashamed to say that I read very little Australian fiction as a teen and I have never had any desire to read "For the Term of His Natural Life" - too close to home i think.

    Hi Jayne, I'm glad you loved Tess, it was wonderful wasn't it. I've never read The Scarlet Letter, I'll add it to my list.

    Hi Francoise, that's a terrific way to think of reading, as a voyage of discovery.

    Hi Rose, Another Tess admirer.I did see the Elm Creek books advertised somewhere. Are they any good?

    Hi Andylynne and welcome,sounds like your favourite books are old friends.

    HI Anna, I have never read the Lord of the Rings books but I have the Narnia series. I read them in late primary school and they were one of the first things I bought when I left home, a boxed set of the series.

    Hi Polly, my husband is a Tim Winton fan so we have all his books but I have only read a couple, Cloudstreet and another.

  19. Jenny~I really loved reading this post! It is always so fun to find a fellow book lover:-)

    Some of my favorites from childhood/teen years were the Little House on the Prairie series, Anne of Green Gables books, Jane Eyre and Villete. I also really enjoyed the books Finn Macool and The Bard by Morgan Llewellyn. I also have always loved poetry...Robert Frost, Tennyson and many others.

    Oh yes, and the Black Arrow by Robert Lewis Stevenson...really good, haven't read it in awhile!

    Thanks for jogging my memory..I think I may be digging some of these out again soon:-)

    Lots of love,

  20. Hi Jenny
    I still adore F soctt Fitzgerald to this day - my fave short stort has always been "The diamond as big as the Ritz", I alos grew up reading Nancy Drew and all the Enid Blyton books. I don't so much find time for reading thesews days, but it is something on my "to do" list! Thank you for the trip down memory lane!

  21. Four years after the original post was written, is it too late to comment do you think?... I am actually just re-reading a book I was given over 20 years ago and loved then. Richard Bachs' 'Bridge Across Forever'. It affected me deeply when I first read it at age 21. Reading it now at 42 I am appreciating different aspects of it and can again feel the magic of his words.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.