Friday, 26 September 2014

My history of reading.

Long ago I lost myself in books. The day I gained my freedom was the day my mother took me to sign up at the public lending library. A place of peace and tranquility unlike the noisy places we have now in the fast reducing number of remaining buildings the local authority have allowed to survive their budget cuts.

Books at school were a nightmare and so many I hated, the absurd fantasy of Alice down her rabbit hole, the violence of Treasure Island or the anthropomorphic rabbits, toads or whatever meant to amuse, I shudder even now just typing out their titles. If I liked a school reading book I would smuggle it home and read it but if I did not like it nothing would get me to read it! This convinced my teacher that I could not read and she suggested the public library to my mother. The hoe was almost devoid of books and I have no memory of either parent ever sitting down and reading us children a story or even reading for their own pleasure, a book desert...

The library was walls of books! How on earth was I ever going to find the books which interested me? My first rule was no smelly books, what on earth did some people do to these books to make them smell so rank? Rule two would have been rule one if the smell of some books had not been so gut wrenching and it was clearly, no girl's books. I knew they existed, I had found them when visiting cousins and had made furtive dips into them and got a thrill like I am told teenage boys leaf through forbidden porn magazines. This was my pink porn and I should never let anyone see me show any interest! A quickly discovered rule three was, cut down searching time by only seeking out fresh new purchases.

That was how I discovered science fiction and devoured Jules Verne and H G Wells which thankfully were not very popular and stayed fresh. There were surprisingly few books that I could find that were written for me, a sensitive soul not interested in anything boyish. I often drifted off to non fiction instead, I filled my head with stuff. Perhaps if I had friends they would have shown me the way to books for school age children but I somehow doubt it.

Once way from home in my late teens with friends reading for English degrees I suddenly found a ready supply of fiction at last, very little of it contemporary, books of ideas, little sex or violence, I read for years from this rich seam of classics. By my late twenties I was drifting lost again, few contemporary books spoke to me, I found few books of interest and those at random. By now rule two should have been irrelevant, books aimed at women were freely available to me if I wanted them but there was an invisible barrier. If I reached through that barrier those books would infect my mind, they would show me a glimpse into that other world and infect me like a parasite itching through to my soul. I resisted.

Once I got online all my reading was of one subject and off the screen. Years of blogs from fellow sufferers, the whole of life was there with no two stories the same. As strange if not stranger than any fiction, these histories had me hypnotised, showed me I was not alone and helped me find my way forward. Those blogs have slowly dried up as their writers found their way forward and into the light, the screen now is usually blank, nothing to read!

At last rule two has been scrapped, all rules on books have been scrapped and I now find I have time and freedom to indulge in my longtime desire for women's books. It is not all easy, I am not prudish about sex but have no interest in poorly written sex scenes, number specified by publisher to satisfy contract. Sex in books does not give me the tingle the authors hope for, it is not on my radar and does not interest me, I crave emotion. I have spent a couple of days wondering if there is an equivalent word to lustful for someone longing for emotional tingle.

I should almost be embarrassed by some of the books I have been reading compared with my English literature only days but being able, finally to wallow in emotion and let floods of tears flow and heart bump is an unexpected bonus of transition...

15 comments:

  1. I’m surprised by your negative reaction to Lewis Carroll, Ruby. For the trans person, I’d have thought the Alice books, with their magical transformations, would be quite inspiring. I don’t recall having these feelings as a child, but if I’d been a little boy dreaming of being a little girl, I think Alice would have been a decided heroine. It connects to the speculations in my own blog about actresses. Transformations of the female body can be a source of fascination if you have a male body which you dream of becoming a female body.

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    1. Thanks Dabrela for the comment. Just trying to work out the madness of our condition which seemed invisible to those around us was more than enough fantasy for me, perhaps that is why I was driven towards a world of facts for something solid to hold on to. That said I quite understand why others might think like yourself...

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  2. As always, the variety of reactions to our 'special' condition does not surprise. Alice, and especially those illustrations were and still are to some extent a tease for me. I understand how you would choose to avoid it and others like it. In my late teens I devoured the "Hornblower" novels of C.S. Forester, but found myself relating way too strongly in the later books of the series to Lady Barbara. Sigh... by then I was hooked and had to finish the chronology.
    For modern fiction written by, about and for women, I highly recommend the "In Death" series by J.D. Robb. Strong characters well fleshed out and the sex scenes are very well written. Very.

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    1. Oh, of you do decide to try Robb's set, try to read them chronologically.

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    2. Thanks Halle, I am always seeking new to me writers and shall be looking this one up though your last sentence has me a little worried!

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    3. Halle, thanks for the recommendation, I bought JDR's first in death book to take away on my visit to friends. A sort of fascination got me through it, certainly not like my usual choices... While I could admire the female protagonist in her battle with testosterone kind like a salmon having to swim against a river in spate, sadly I don't think she is one I want to follow for her next forty adventures. The style of writing was quite good but I found her fifty shadesish relationship with moneybags felt unpleasant and I suspect he sticks around. A week on I cannot remember the sex but I do remember that it was not as cringeworthy as it is in so many books. I would have loved to have fallen into such a long series but my search continues.

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  3. Naturally I was incarcerated in a school for "boys" who at a certain age found James Bond, I found Modesty Blaise, they were bemused!

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  4. Halle, are you Robb's agent? There are at least 39 books in that series! £240 to get onto the Kindle, not sure that I can take the risk of falling for them...

    I must go and ask my local librarian if they can be ordered, not sure that I can remember how old fashioned paper books work.

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    1. 39! Really? I only think about how long it will be before the next one is published now! They are wonderful. I hope your library can help you.

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    2. Oh, and all 39 were audio books. I read them on my commute.

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  5. Hi Ruby. I loved this post and so related to it. I have written more than one blog post about my love of books written by female authors. There is truly a difference between the writing styles of men and women and reading books written by women puts my mind in a world that I should have been born into.

    I read mostly science fiction and supernatural books. Lately, I have been the Laurell K. Hamilton "Anita Blake" series. I'm currently reading the 9th book in the series. I may or may not continue reading this series. I love the plots but the amount of sex has steadily increased as I get more into the series. It's not that I can't handle this, but enough is enough.

    Stephanie Meyer's, "The Host", and Kathleen McGowan's, "The Expected One" are two very different books, but also books that never could have been written by a male.

    As with Halle, I love the J D Robb "In Death" series of books.

    And there are so many more.....

    Calie

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    1. Thanks Calie for your suggestions, if I get many more I shall have to give up all my household projects. Only joking, reading is a marvellous way of seeing the world through someone else's eyes and imagination, even better if they are someone whose vision gels with your own.

      Thank goodness the nights are getting longer!

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  6. My local lending library only had a copy from much later in the series on the shelf when I visited. The spooky rich guy played a smaller role thank goodness and there was plenty of detective work to keep the well written plot moving along. Sorry Halle but the increased references to sex do not do it for me, not as cringe inducing as many books but enough to put me off trying to read through the series.

    I did learn from the librarian that two of my friends, who I would not have thought would be reading detective books of any kind, have become obsessed by the series and nearly read them all from the inter library loan scheme.

    My search continues...

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    1. There is no rule for what makes a good read. Generally I have tried one book as you did in any series of books. I figure an author who manages to sell a series of books must be doing something right. Having said that, like you, it doesn't always lead to the sweet spot for me.
      Thinking about the 'spooky rich' guy, you might have felt differently had you managed to read an 'early in the series' book, where the relationship between those main characters Roark and Dallas is developed.
      Reading is often better when you know the backstory.

      Hope when you find some good reads you will let us all know here!

      Hugs, Halle

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