I had three distinct influences responsible for my love of books and the right to read them, my mother, her mother and a very special great aunt on my father’s side. Each woman empowered me to be the man I am today. My mother showed me where to get books, her mother advised me on the authors to read and my great Aunt Tillie taught me how to take what I read and apply it to my life. She instilled the instinct to stand up for my right to read anything I wanted.
Natalie, my grandfather’s older sister, worked with the Orange County and City of Orlando Library systems in her younger days and was very involved in the Friends of the Library in retirement. Her home had walls of books, floor to ceiling. She allowed me to take any three books I wanted after a visit. She had me reading Susann, Reuben and Bach by the time I was thirteen. The rules were simple- return them for more and be prepared to chat about what you read during the next visit. It was the chats I’d look forward to the most (even after taking “Everything you wanted to know about sex*” once). Hearing her standpoint on the same words I’d read, gave me great insight into her perspective on life. I learned from her that everyone’s point of view matters.
My grandmother was a great source for new authors to read. She pointed me to Christie, Queen & Fleming. Before Google there was Betty Belmont. She knew everything trivial and factual about the literary world. In fact, she was good with every statistic; sports, music, weather- she kept it all in her head. Mom made sure I had books from the beginning, by the time I was three we had a sizable library of Dr.Seuss and Curious George books. She also made sure I had a library card once I outgrew the books at home. Without these three great women I know my vivacious appetite for books wouldn’t exist.