Recently while I was cooking I turned on HGTV to see what new design horrors they've come up with. They were showing a woman in a beautiful house with bookcases on each side of a fireplace in her living room. She was saying, "I don't know what to do with those shelves. They absolutely have to go!"
Well, after I picked myself up off the floor, I had to take a close look at this house. As far as I could see there were no books and no magazines at all in the house except for the children's schoolbooks in their rooms. I was flabbergasted. Not only did I wonder how anyone could live without any sort of reading material in the house, I worried about the example this set for the children in the family.
I've always thought that my parents were responsible for turning me into an avid reader and that my good grades in school were because of my father's example. Both of my parents read the local newspaper every day and on Sundays we bought the Chicago Tribune. I don't remember how old I was when I took up the habit but I was quite young. Both of my parents read books as well. My father preferred technical books, but they joined the Book of the Month Club when I was a small child and both of them read the bestsellers. They subscribed to magazines such as National Geographic and the Saturday Evening post. There was always something new to read.
My father was a self-made man who missed out on college because of the Depression. In lieu of that experience, he took every math course offered by the correspondence school at the University of Illinois. I remember Mom and I being quiet nearly every evening because he was studying, so I grew up thinking lifelong learning was a desirable trait.
They took me to the library to get a card and borrow books, they put bookshelves in my bedroom and gave me some of the shelves beside the fireplace for my books, and I don't ever remember them saying I should put a book aside to do anything else. I was perhaps overly sheltered from outdoor activities because my mother was afraid I would get hurt, but they never censored my reading. (One comical memory is that my mother liked to read the old pulp detective magazines of the 40s but she hid them from my father knowing he wouldn't approve. It was her only deception in a long marriage.)
My own house is overflowing with books, a fact my father would shake his head at. He was big on discipline. I've had a big effect on my husband. He wasn't a reader when we married but now takes so many magazines concerning his work and his hobbies that the mail carrier is about to go on strike. No regrets. I think this is the only way to live and I thank my parents immensely for starting me on the right path.