When I was young, we would go on long family vacations every year, almost always camping or in a motor home. This was just about the only time I ever got an allowance. I don’t remember the exact details of the arrangement, but it was along the lines of a dollar a day, five dollars a week, or something else proportional to the length of the vacation itself.
I never really had an allowance while at home. Most of the time I just had to ask for things directly. Sometimes I’d get it and sometimes I wouldn’t. There were just no stores in my neighbourhood so there was nothing to temp me enough to beg for an allowance like many kids must.
On vacations, when I was surrounded by things to buy, the rules changed and I had to save my money for the things I really wanted. The one exception was that if I wanted a book, whether or not I had spent all my money at the campground canteen or some cheap toy store, my mom would get it for me. Sure, maybe it was just a strategy on my parents’ part to keep us out of their hair when there was nothing else to do at the campsite, but I’m pretty sure it was because my mom knew how important reading was.
As far back as I can remember, there were bedtime stories. My sister and I joke now about a few books that we remember as being really great, that completely blew our minds when we were younger, but which my mom either hated or thought were completely ordinary. She read them to us anyway. That one where a bear draws an oven in the sand and bakes a cake (also drawn in the sand) comes to mind as one of those mind blowing moments. When I was older for picture books, she’d read me novels, and even as I started to get old enough to read them to myself, she’d still follow along so she could read with me.
It’s no wonder that I enjoy reading as much as I do today. Unfortunately I don’t make time for it as much as I would like, and there always seems to be a shortage of good books. Or at least, a shortage of books I want to read at which are available at McGill libraries. For the record, my current reading list stands as follows:
- The Blind Watchmaker – Dawkins, Richard
- Murder on the Orient Express – Christie, Agatha
- Permutation City – Greg Egan
- Beggars in Spain – Nancy Kress
- Foreigner – Sawyer, Robert J
- The Natural Alien – Evernden, Neal
- Sex and the City – Bushnell, Candace
- Jennifer Government – Barry, Max
- Schrodinger’s Cat – Widdicombe, David
- God vs The Gavel – Hamilton, Marci
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Clarke, Susanna
- Warped Passages – Randall, Lisa
- The Perks of Being a Walflower – Chbosky, Stephen
- Watership Down – Adams, Richard
- Puppetmasters – Heinlein, Robert
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Capote, Truman
- The Once and Future King – White, TH
- Catch 22 – Heller, Joseph
- A Complicated Kindness – Toews, Miriam
- Tropic of Cancer – Miller, Henry
- The Mighty and Almighty – Albright, Madeline
- The Devil Wears Prada – Weisberger, Lauren
- The Talented Mr. Ripley – Highsmith, Patricia
- Life Laughs – McCarthy, Jenny
- Brother Astronomy – Consolmango, Brother Guy
- Our Inner Ape – de Waals, Frans
- Darwin’s Black Box – Behe, Michael
- Spin – Wilson, Robert
- Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures – Lam, Vincent
- With Folded Hands – Williamson, Jack
A varied list at times, but that’s basically because all a book has to do to get on it is be mentioned by somebody within earshot. If I haven’t read it yet, that’s probably enough to make me want to read it, with few exceptions.