Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Act of Unsupervised Reading - Why Non-bookish Parents Made My Childhood Awesome

A few days ago I was doing my browsing around the internet and I came across this article about books unsuitable for teenagers that they'll read anyway. Patrick Ness describes his childhood reading experience as "blissfully unchaperoned" and I really took that statement to heart.  As someone who's reading experience was pretty much unchaperoned, but none the less encouraged as a child I got into quite a few books that were inappropriate for my age group. In the spirit of the Ness's article I'll list a few for you.

Requiem for a Dream - Selby Jr - You've probably seen the movie (starring Jared Leto and Jennifer Connlley) about a bunch of hard core, and sometimes accidental drug addicts. I came across the book when I had just started high school and was still blissfully ignorant of the terrible parts of the world. This book opened my eyes and my reading habits. It was completely inappropriate to read at such a young age (though probably better at 14 than 10) and am pretty sure if I picked it up now I'd have a hard time feeling any sympathy for the characters. Plus I tried to read another of Selby's novels not to long ago and couldn't get past his trying writing style, which I easily forgave in my younger years.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Thompson - Okay, so I read Requiem and then my next thought was "books about drugs are cool, I should find more" and to Google I went. Now, I'm still about 14 and the very innocent and shy me ends up tearing through several Hunter S Thompson books. It was a crazy experience, and to this day I'm not entirely sure I like Thompson as an author but I'm glad I read what I read.

The Boy Next Door/A Walk to Remember/Countless Romance Novels - I'm not quite 22 and I'm not entirely ashamed to say I went through a romance novel/chick lit phase. If you know me this is a pretty big statement. I'm not ashamed of this phase because I when it happened I was about 11. Yep. Between the ages of 11 and 12 I tore through books about girls in this late 20's working in magazines and looking for Mr. Right but only finding Mr. Only-for-tonight. Sometimes looking back on my habits I'm amazed that my tastes turned so literary, but I'm pretty glad they did.

I also asked some of my friends to come up with some books they think they read at an inappropriately young age.

Kirsten said that she felt 13 was to young for A Handmaidens Tale.

Jasmyn said she was reading Edgar Allen Poe at 9.

Some of my honorable mentions include Les Miserable, Candide and a mound of Historical fiction that got me through my tween years.

What about you? Were you reading King while you were in Elementary school or Kerouac after your babysitter put you to sleep?


kelfire said...

Jon gave me the Clerks/Chasing Amy screenplays when I was 14. I didn't understand most of the words in it. I read Dreamcatcher and Hearts in Atlantis when I was 12.

Becky (Page Turners) said...

I admit to flicking through the mills and boon books at a young age looking for the sexy scenes. But otherwise I think that I was a pretty age appropriate reader. I do know that I read THe Hobbit at a much younger age than usual - but I only know what because I have been told so by my parents.

Anonymous said...

Generally I think I read things which were pretty age appropriate for me, I read so much YA fiction as a teenager I tend to reject it now, simply because it took me so long to get to the adult stuff! I did have my chick lit phase when I was a teenager, now I just find chick-lit predictable.

Oh just thought I remember reading Waiting- Ha Jin when at school, that was probably a bit old for me, I borrowed it from the school library too!

Kate said...

My middle school / high school reading was pretty unsupervised. I remember stumbling across the "Flowers in the Attic" series as a middle school student and getting through the first few books before my Mom caught wind and took them away. Totally inappropriate for a 14 year old!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I know I read some stuff that probably wasn't age appropriate, but I agree that it's all part of discovering what books are out there and finding out what you like. I went through a chick-lit phase too in high school and read some sacchrine Sparks novels and bad Mr. Right stories. I am also happy that I moved on.

Jillian said...

My mom was/is still a bookish parent but she never really did stop me from picking up the books I read. Sure, she did the occasional nitpicking and the supervising, but overall, she let me read what I wanted. I think it was important that she let me be "free" to read whatever I wanted. Of course, when I was a kid, it wasn't like I was on the book sections that needed to be a supervised, so I guess it works out either way. Haha.