Your Mom Let's You Read Whatever You Want

Happy birthday to my mom! I honestly have no idea if she has ever reads the blog, nor do I know if she wants her picture flashed all over the internet, so today I'll just talk about her connection to me as a reader and not how awesome she is (please, why would I waste my time bragging about someone who would never find out?). 

[this is not my mom, but she sure is my favorite TV mom; source]
First of all, my mom (and dad, who worked a lot and then died when I was 14) never really monitored what I read growing up. I know this sounds irresponsible to some, but I turned out pretty well, all the while reading some extremely inappropriate things way, way too young (a book called Shank about life in prison, as well as Time to Kill both way before high school, for example). I was allowed to choose from the adult section of the library by the time I was maybe eleven or so, and whenever I saved up my allowance to buy books no one checked what I was buying. It was a combination of trust, freedom, and the fact my mom had three kids younger than I to take care of. I totally worked the system. 

[thank God she's not my mom... I'd kill Buster; source]
Speaking of the library, my mom was the queen of library visits. When we were younger she took us all the time to story hour and to check out books (the rule: you could only check out as many as you can carry). It was our job to remind her when our books were due and if we dropped the ball we had to pay any fines that accrued- my mom was big into teaching us to be self-sufficient and responsible. As we got older she was still willing and ready to drop us off to study or do research and pick us up when we were finished. I think way, way too many families these days either don't read with their kids or opt to buy their kids books instead of visiting their local branch. It's a pity- libraries need young patrons to expand their programs, not to mention the fact that library cards are a right of passage.

[if she were my mom I'd know Tim Riggins...; source]
My mom didn't read a ton, given the fact she had four kids and all, but she did have some books that I was bound and determined to borrow from her. She apparently went through some sort of semi-religious literature stage because I remember reading the Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke and Christy by Catherine Marshall (admittedly, I was disappointed in how little sex and profanity were in each...). Later on, I borrowed countless Danielle Steel, Mary Higgins Clark, and VC Andrews books from her (oh hello, here you are sexy time). While those authors are most definitely not in my TBR stacks anymore, I do look towards them with a bit of nostalgia. It was a time to discern my palette. Now that her kids are grown and a bit more self-sufficient, my mom reads much more. I try to impose my taste on her occasionally, sending her books I think she'll like for Christmas and birthdays (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the  Night Time, State of Wonder, etc...). 

[my mom took as much crap as Mrs. Cosby; source]
I also have to give my mom credit for not pushing. I was a natural, enthusiastic reader early on, so no prodding was necessary with me. Not all of my siblings were this way, though, and while doing what was necessary for school was a requirement, my mom never made anyone read for pleasure. We all know that one of the easiest ways to hate something is to be forced to do it.  

[some seem to think I'll be like this mom; source]
I hope to be as liberal and happily oblivious when I one day have little readers of my own. While I'm not sure if I'd let my eleven-year-old read about glory holes in prison, I would like to think that my kids will be able to understand what they're ready for (I wonder what this says about my younger self...), and that learning about the world through books is safe and intellectually stimulating. 

So thanks, mom.


  1. Happy birthday to your mom! I love that you chose to share how she shaped you as a reader! Sounds like she did it just right.

    The biggest influence for me being a reader was growing up in a literature rich home. Both my brothers and I had bookshelves in our rooms. (When I got sick of my books, I'd sneak in their rooms to read theirs!) There were books and magazines and newspapers all over the house. My dad wasn't much of a reader, but my mom read daily. Most nights she still falls asleep with a book in her hands trying to get in just one more chapter.

  2. This is such a great post! Happy, happy birthday to your mom!

  3. I love this! I hope to be like that with my kids one day. My mom didn't monitor my reading much, but she did put her foot down when her sister tried to lend me a romance novel at a very young age -- if I picked it up at the library, she probably never would have noticed, but since it was her sister, that was a different story!

  4. Okay I had to laugh because I remember reading Love Comes Softly and Christy and having the same exact thoughts!