Summers Spent With Books - and a chance to win a Dani Harper tote bag!


Trees were made for climbing ... and for reading in!
Summer vacation and reading have always gone together for as long as I can remember! I spent as much time as I could in the public pool or the creek, but when it was time to dry off, I was in the shade with my face in a book ... or better yet, walking or biking to the public library and spending a couple of magical hours there.

The high-ceilinged old building had vast oak shelves and a hardwood floor that creaked, and somehow the place stayed cool even on the hottest days. It was an Aladdin's cave of wonders for me, a treasure trove I never tired of. Most of the books were reeeally old, but I didn't mind a bit (and I still adore the aroma of old books!).

Fun trivia --- According to a 2009 study, old books have an unmistakable smell that is as much a part of them as their contents --- "a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness". Sounds like someone describing a unique wine!

Built in 1913 by Andrew Carnegie, this was the library
I frequented as a kid. I spent a lot of time reading 
on top of the broad concrete bannisters 
in the summer because they always stayed cool!
(Of course, by the time I was born, there were lots of
big beautiful TREES that shaded the building!)
My old library today! It's not a library anymore,
but I'm happy it's still standing -- it's like seeing
an old friend when I visit my hometown!
Since I lived in Canada, most of the children's books in my town library were British, and I read a LOT of stories involving faeries that I'm sure have influenced me to this day (and helped inspire my novels, STORM WARRIOR and STORM BOUND). I adored myth and legend (still do!), and poured over collections of Greek, Roman, Norse and Celtic lore.

I feel very fortunate that my reading level was far above my age. Not only could I read fast, but I comprehended and remembered what I read. And my appetite for books was insatiable.... By the time I was ten, I was venturing fearlessly into every section. There was an entire wall devoted to science fiction, another to fabulous old classics -- I read the unabridged versions of The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, Frankenstein, and everything by Rudyard Kipling. I adored the supernatural, and devoured all the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker. And YES, I definitely remember the day I discovered JRR Tolkien!  Non-fiction was great too -- science and geography and ANYTHING about animals of any kind. I repeatedly dragged home a huge dry book on electricity, but I have to admit, I never really conquered that one. If only Robert Louis Stevenson or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had written it....

New books were few and far between at this library -- I don't think there was much in the way of funding at the time -- but the librarian often saved those precious new books JUST FOR ME to read first, bless her heart! Of course, since I was there two or three times a week in the summer, and at least once a week the rest of the year, no one else was kept waiting for the book for very long!

I was also given the rare privilege of taking out as many books from the library as I wanted -- the limit was usually 3! My personal best was reading 22 full-sized novels in a single week! (No wonder my parents finally installed a huge basket on the front of my bicycle -- the kind that newspaper carriers used!)

One summer in particular really showcased my diverse interests. I remember reading Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (long before I ever saw the movie), The Cybernetic Brains by Raymond F. Jones, several of Ray Bradbury's works (S is for Space and The Martian Chronicles are within reach on my Keeper Shelf as I write this), Rosemary's Baby, the entire John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolf, plus a huge tome on biology, evolution and Mendal's work on genetics! (And those are just the books I can remember from that season...)

In the summer, though, WHERE you read is almost as important as the books! At the library, there really wasn't any room to sit inside -- the whole place was taken up with bookshelves. But the cement bannisters that flanked the outside stairs were usually shaded and cool in the hottest weather, although a little hard.

Someday, I'm going to have a place on the roof just to read...
At home, most of my literary delights were enjoyed either under or in a tree beside a stream where wild yellow irises bloomed. If the bugs got too bad outside, then I had a corner of the basement with an old kitchen table and chairs. When I wasn't building model airplanes or doing crafts there, I was reading, reading, reading.

My all-time favorite place, however, was the roof. I discovered a way to climb up there when I was about 12 and it was fabulous ---- until my mom found out where I was hiding, and that was the end of that! Darn!

However, ONE thing I rarely had with me when I went to the library was a book bag. It wasn't so bad if I had my bike (AFTER I got the basket put on, that is...), but walking meant holding the books in my arms -- and I lived a long way from the library! So for my giveaway this time, I'm offering FIVE of my deluxe canvas tote bags as prizes. (PS - open to INTERNATIONAL entries)
Happy Summer! 
Happy Reading! 
...................................................................................................
a Rafflecopter giveaway

76 comments:

  1. Summers were wonderful times to read, especially once I convinced the library to waive their maximum book limit for me so that I didn't have to come back so often. Of course, I once incurred the enmity of my classmates by trying to read the entire summer reading list we have been given, lol. Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. How cool is that? I'm glad your library waived the maximum rule for you too!

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  2. I loved swimming and riding my bike when I was a kid.

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    1. I'm just rediscovering both of them. I finally live in a place again where it's warm enough to do both, and I'm having fun!

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  3. Reading in trees, canoeing and hanging out at the beach those were the best summer days. Oh and eating hot wings at pubs

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    1. Yay - another tree reader! (And now I want some hot wings....)

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  4. This is such as awesome giveaway! Thank you, I'm crossing my fingers.

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  5. I loved to read outside as a kid. I would pack a lunch and a blanket and lay outside reading for half the day.

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    1. That sounds so inviting! The closest I ever got to packing a lunch was stealing tomatoes out of the garden!

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  6. My mother inspired my love of reading, I loved the myths as well and some of the old classics like The Children of Willow Tree farm, A Little Princess and the Nancy Drew books.

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    1. Oh my, Enid Blyton was my very favorite author when I was little. I LOVED the Famous Five, especially Five on a Treasure Island. I really related to George, the girl who wanted to be a boy because they had so much more fun.

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  7. I used to love when in the summer the fire department would come out to our neighborhood every now and then and open the fire hydrants for a while and all the neighborhood kids would run outside and we would play for hours in the water. So much fun when you live in the hot and humid south where summers get over 100° degrees!

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    1. That must have been a blast! What a great kindness to let kids have a little cool fun in the heat.

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  8. I too was a reader. I was thrilled when I could drive because then I didn't have to beg my mother to drive me to the library each week.

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    1. I'm really thankful that I could get to the library on my own, or I wouldn't have gotten to go very often.

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  9. I loved reading all through summer vacation. We had a little tiny library and I always signed up for the summer reading program, though there were only a couple other kids who did. It makes me sad still that our library is closed now. When my mom made me go out and play in the summer time, that meant I was either on the porch swing with a book, or in the grass on a blanket reading.

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    1. Our town library meant a lot to me growing up. It's sad that they're not used as much as they used to be, and when they are, it's for computer use (which is important too, but I wish more kids felt excited about books). PS, I've always wanted a porch swing!

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  10. I remember very well sitting under a tree in the back of our yard and if I didn't want to be bothered it was in the tree, second limb from the bottom. It was the best way to travel and it was through those childhood reads that I found something that would stay with me forever. :) I am definitely a book addict and read constantly. Other then reading it was creating new worlds with my collection of Paper Dolls.
    Thanks for the opportunity.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. I agree - books are the best way to travel, and I treasure what I found in them. Thanks for reminding me of paper dolls too -- my mom taught me how to trace them and design my own clothes for them. I seemed to have been fond of flashy zebra stripes!!!

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  11. This how I spent ALL of my summer vacation. I'd stay up late reading and my dad would come in and tell me it was time to go to bed.

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    1. My hubs was an avid night time reader (and still is). As a kid he used to read half the night with a flashlight under the blankets.

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  12. I'm right there with you...summer & reading have always gone hand in hand for me!! I always had a book stashed close by, no matter what I was doing!! I did not reach your lofty best at 22 books in a week, but when I was 11 or 12, I read Gone with the Wind, The Midwife and the Midwife' s Advice by Gay Coulter (terrific books, they made me want to be a Midwife or Doula when I grew up!!) It was also the first time I read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale! I finished with a total of 13 "grown up books" in that week alone!! (I only remember because of the reading log our teachers had us keep over the summer, and we had to write "blurbs" about each book we read to prove that we had read it!!) I love your work and can't wait to read more of the Grimm Series!!! Bright Blessings to you and those you love!!

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    1. That's pretty intensive reading --- I'd say that the heavy content of your 13 "grown up" books easily trumps my 22. Thank you for the blessings!

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  13. I used to sit on the cement slab in front of my grandmother's house eating huge pieces of watermelon and spitting the seeds out into the front yard. Fond memories.

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    1. We used to have contests to see who could spit the seeds the furthest. I wasn't very good at it! But watermelon was surely made for hot weather. :)

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  14. I used to love swimming and riding bike.

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    1. I'm still loving it. Mind you, the days of jumping my bicycle off homemade ramps is OVER!

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  15. Like you I was always reading. A friend and I would go to the library on Saturday morning get our allotted 10 books and go home. We would read the books and pass them to the other and we always got all 20 read before Monday. Loved those simple days of old.

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    1. How fun to have a friend to go to the library and swap books with!

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  16. We always went camping every summer. Friends of my parents and their daughters. My poor brother was the only boy there. We camped all summer. My mom stayed at the camp site with us kids while everyone else went to work. They were the best summers ever.

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    1. Wow, what great memories! The only camping I ever did as a kid was to go to a local youth camp for a week. I loved it, but I got picked on quite a bit. One morning my blue training bra was at the top of the flagpole when we went out to sing the national anthem!!!

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  17. Each Summer we headed for the coast. There was a book & comic exchange at the local corner store. We would hunt for, & trade in, glass soft drink & milk bottles in exchange for comics, books & sweets.

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    1. I remember when you could trade bottles for stuff at the local corner store! That was an AWESOME way to recycle!

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  18. When I was young, I loved to go camping and meet new friends!

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    1. Having read Swiss Family Robinson and such, I always wanted to do the survival-type camping and "rough it". Never got the chance to do that until I was a grown-up in Alaska. Suddenly it wasn't so fun without my bed and my laptop and my shower, LOL!

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  19. Our family always visited my grandmother each summer. I remember peeling apples for pie, snapping beans for dinner, catching fireflies in mason jars, and watching The Carol Burnett Show. Once I was tucked in for the night, I'd read my Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew books until I fell asleep. Ahh…the memories...

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    1. I remember fireflies! I saw them for the first time at my gramma's house --- they were magical! (And Carol Burnett absolutely ROCKED! I'll never forget her Gone With The Wind skit!)

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  20. I read voraciously as a kid and I was also well above my reading level. I read anything I could get my hands on except horror which I detest. In the summers if you were in the house you did chores and I had enough regular chores as it was. I tended to escape outside as soon as I could and had a few big trees with great sitting branches. If the tree was really cool I would grab some nails and a hammer and build a platform. Then raid the rag bags and make a couple of cushions to sit on. Or found a nook somewhere in the woods and curled up and read. Didn't matter, so long as I had alone time (hard with 6 other sibs around) and good book.

    I loved the library during the school year and hung out there as much as I could. I remember freaking out my librarian by reading Mishner's Hawaii in 7th grade. See, I was allowed to check out books for my mom. I had a note and everything and sometimes she had a list for me and sometimes not. I knew what my mom liked to read, tho. So the librarian thought the book was for my mom, lol! Nope, for me and I read the whole thing, even the boring parts--the man wrote pages of stuff that had nothing to do with the story (still feel that way). Truthfully, I read a lot of adult books no one knew I read and kid books for my age group didn't hold my interest and were boring I started reading Nancy Drew in 3rd grade and went through them all, Jim Kjelgaard's Irish setters stories and everything else he wrote, loved and read all of Edgar Rice Boroughs--because they were adventure and accessible and our library and we didn't have tons of new books either. I preferred adventure stories. Discovered Sci-fi before I was in 7th grade and about went through the whole section.

    The biggest treat was when my dad brought home several big boxes of condensed Readers Digest books from a remodel job site. I think the closest I came to romance was Gwen Bristol, Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy--because my mom read them. Then I discovered Georgette Heyer, Brontes, Jane Austen, and, Barbara Cartland, lol!

    I was 13 before I was allowed to read all 1152 pages of Gone With The Wind and it was a book I read every summer until I left home.

    Reading has always been my major entertainment and escape. I always have a book with me.

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    1. My eyes actually misted up when you mentioned Jim Kjelgaard -- I read all the Big Red books, and Chip the Dam Builder, and many others. My husband is the only other person I've ever known who's read them --- and now YOU! How awesome is that?

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    2. Dani, I absolutely loved his books and they were my favorite childhood series and I read them more than once. :-) He did such a good job with dogs--hey they were better dogs than Lassie, lol! They were great adventure stories too.

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    3. They were among my best-loved books too. Did you read Gray Dawn and Lad, and all the other collie books by Albert Payson Terhune?

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    4. Yes, I read them when I was in 3rd grade, maybe? Teacher had collected them as short stories rather than in the book form. I loved Gray Dawn. He was a mess but with a heart of gold. These collie's were better than Lassie. :-) Probably why I later found Kjelgaard. I also read Call of the wild (the movie absolutely made me cry--much to my grandmother's distress--liked the book better) and he wrote some other stories about wolf hybrids. There's another author that wrote about sled dogs too. It was so long ago I can't even remember the stories themselves just that I liked them.

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  21. wow, what a wonderful story! I am glad my kids are both readers. I was a horror reader as a kid. I started reading King around 11. I never read like you did because I was one for sports,climbing trees and finding snakes. But I am trying to make up for it now!

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    1. My library didn't have much horror at that time, or I would have read a LOT more of it. "Carrie" came out about the same time I left home. I read it and I've been hooked on King ever since -- I've always been entranced with the way he takes you inside the minds of the characters! Even if it's not one of his best books, there's always a scene that's unforgettable. My total fav to date is Duma Key. I read my way through Dean Koontz as well, plus Robert MacCammon (I love Boy's Life), and Dan Simmons (Children of the Night).

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  22. We would go swimming and play with our friends.We would also take family vacations to visit relatives each summer .Oh to have those carefree days again.

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    1. Summer vacation was definitely a memory-making time! I've often wondered if kids today feel the same magic that I did.

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  23. Did not find reading until I was about 12, but I do have a granddaughter who has my love of reading and she started a little bit earlier, and at 15 she is an avid reader.

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    1. Some folks discover reading later. I was deeply concerned that one of my daughters didn't seem to enjoy reading at all when she was young. Now, as a grown-up, she LOVES reading and we have a lot of favorites to swap back and forth.

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  24. OMG Dani, you just named all my favorite authors!! On to the question - when I was young (and that was a very, very, long time ago), several times during the summer our family would pack a picnic and go to the State Park for the day. It was always a fun time playing in the woods, building a campfire and roasting s'mores. We also caught 'lightning bugs' and picked locust shells off the trees when they were around.

    Bonnie Hilligoss - bonnie at bonnieanddave dot com

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    1. We had a lot of fun finding cicada shells on tree trunks -- they were so perfect, like an insect made of glass! And I remember that we called fireflies "lightning bugs" too. As much as I LOVED them, I never did manage to catch a single one!

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  25. One summer I especially remember, it rained every day and I went floating down the Mississippi with Huck and Jim.

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    1. I will never forget Mark Twain's stories -- I think I was inclined to be a little like Tom Sawyer myself, so I related! My favorite scene is where the runaway boys, Tom, Joe, and Huck, turn up at their own funeral!

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  26. I love being outdoors either playing sport or seeking new adventures

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    1. I was never much for team sports --- probably because I was TERRIBLE at them! But I always loved tree climbing (I think that should be an official sport, don't you?), swimming, and bicycling.

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  27. my local libraries have a summer reading program and my cousin and I would join and follow all the fun things they gave away as you read more and more books. Every summer I would spend weeks with my cousin so we would go through many books. This was 35+ years so there weren't as many great authors as there are today. To be a kid with all the great books out there for their enjoyment.

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    1. I admit, I'm a little envious too of all the TERRIFIC new books out there for kids today. Fortunately I had a great time sharing books with my own kids and now I adore discovering books for my granddaughter. Just sent her "The Pirates Next Door" and "The Pirate Cruncher" by Jonny Duddle.

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    1. One of my favorite quotes is "Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air." by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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  29. I loved swimming, in a pool, a lake, wherever I could find water.

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    1. I still do --- I'm hoping that after I die, I get to come back as a dolphin!

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  30. I grew up in a very strict household and didn't have too many friends. My only escape was books and I would adore going to the library. It was the best vacation. :-)

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    1. I have to admit, books were my best friends and at times my only friends when I was a kid!

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  31. Hi Dani! I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada for those are not familiar with it) and I used to go camping with my family every summer and weekends etc. It was a lot of fun and something I looked forward to doing. However with health issues and such we haven't been camping in a long time. Now I hang out with my parents lots (best friends ever :) ) and we read, watch tv, hang in the gazebo etc. now. As long as it is family time, I am happy! btw, liked on amazon #159!) Love your books and thanks for this great opportunity!

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    1. Thanks Cherri! I admit, my hubs and I enjoy hanging out together or with the family better than anything.

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  32. playing in the mud. playing tag etc. we had fun as kids using our imagination. kids these days don't have that and its a damn shame!

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    1. I have to agree with that --- it seems like no one has to "suspend their disbelief" or use their imagination at all anymore.

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  33. As a child I spent time at Juneau Park and Bradford Beach.

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  34. I saw some photos of the park and the beach on a Milwaukee site --- love the beautiful sand! BTW, I saw a flurry of comments from you in my inbox. I should have posted on here that I was moderating comments because of all the spam I've gotten lately. Turned it off for now!

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  35. I have always had a love for reading. I was always in my room or outside somewhere. I loved romance books then, now I love anything paranormal my favorites are shifters and Vampires, and I love Wolves. My mom would always say, if you are looking for Beth you will find her in a corner with a book.

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    1. I've always adored the supernatural, but I came to the romance party late. I discovered paranormal romance with Christine Feehan's Dark Dream --- and was hooked ever after.

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  36. When I was little I had a four shelf bookcase against the dining room wall with the table up against it. From ages 4 to 8, my favorite thing to do was pulling a stack of books off the shelf and spend hours sitting under the table reading.

    I was a latchkey kid from age 8+ and in the summers I would ride my pink bike, with a white wicker basket and pink flowers, the three big blocks to my local library. I would stay all day picking out and reading books before setting out for home with the maximum of five books. I would read them that night and then return them the next day and repeat all summer .

    By this age I had already worked my way through the kids section and had started at the beginning of the adult section. The librarians tried to convince me that I was too young but after I demonstrated that I could read and understand them, they let me choose my own books.

    Between ages eight to twelve, I read all of Ian Fleming, Paul Gallico, Jules Verne, H G Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack London, Louis L’Amour, J R R Tolkien and any adventure novels I could find, as well as a lot of random books whose cover or title sounded interesting. Then I discovered Anne McCaffrey and devoured her Dragonrider, Harper Hall and Crystal Singer books as they were written.

    At thirteen I discovered Georgette Heyer and fell in love with Regency England. I loved the sly humor and the tender romance and lost myself in descriptions of Regency life. The librarians couldn’t understand why I kept checking out the same books over and over but I just couldn’t get enough of These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub, Sylvester, The Toll-Gate, The Unknown Ajax, The Grand Sophy and The Masqueraders.

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    1. I remember Ian Fleming! My uncle presented me with his complete James Bond collection one summer. I must have been around 12 or 13, and I read them all. I missed out on Georgette Heyer, but I know the joy of re-reading a much-loved series! PS - I still have an old copy of Crystal Singer!

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  37. I've always loved reading, and every summer I'd read anything I could get my hands on. We lived on a farm for about 8 years while I was growing up so it was a lot of work, but when I wasn't working, I was reading:)

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    1. As a kid, I was in love with my grandpa's farm -- I was SO disappointed when my dad didn't take it over. As an adult, however, I comprehend the constant WORK involved! I'm still glad I had a chance to have a small farm of my own for a while.

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  38. I've always been a big reader. Used to spend the summers at the local library. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. Between the library and the local pool, I can honestly say that I had WONDERFUL summers as a kid. Funny --- the grandkids think I was terribly deprived!

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Love your comments and read every one of them! Thanks for taking the time to write!