One of the themes that keeps coming up while reading this book are the number of writers who grew up surrounded by books and/or storytellers:
Sara Gruen: My parents had an extensive library, and as a kid I worked my way through it, picking the next book off the shelf when I was done with the last. I read everything from Alexander Pope to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
Jane Smiley: Almost all novelists grew up reading voraciously, and many of them come from families in which it’s automatic to tell stories about family characters.
In that vein, my husband and I were talking about the houses we grew up in. His father recently told him he’s never read a single book; his mother has only read a few, and those were mostly about the area of the country she lives in, the locals. My relatives weren’t readers, either. My mother read a few romance novels late in her life, once she was homebound, but that’s it. My grandmother was obsessed with all things Dracula and vampires (she would have loved the current vampire craze!), and she loved to tell scary stories on the porch swing, but I only recall her reading the obituaries and her daily horoscope in town newspaper.
It occurs to me that one of the reasons I love audio books so much is because I’ve finally, in my 40’s, discovered the joy of being read to. I especially like to be read to by a female voice, even if the story’s narrator is a man.
What was it is like to read Solzhenitsyn as a kid, because your dad left his book on the coffee table? If you didn’t grow up with books, where and how did you find them? Tell me your story.