Friday, July 15, 2022

1961: Library books and music on the radio

In 1961, at the beginning of the summer when I was 11 years old, I decided to make a list of every library book I read.  Extremely self-conscious about my body that was much more developed than other girls my age , I spent much of that summer lying in my bed reading books.  I had my first menstrual period the previous August when I was still 10 years old and felt that my childhood was over way too soon.  I was tall for my age and went on my first diet at 10 years old, thinking I was overweight because I weighed more than almost everyone in my 5th grade class.  I stopped going out to play with the neighborhood kids and started watching "American Bandstand" on television.  That may have been when I began taking long solitary walks with our family dog, part of my unsuccessful strategy for losing weight.  I started reading books for teenage girls, but my favorite books were those that took me completely away from my life and societal expectations and into lives that I wished were mine and to places I wished I could go, including other worlds.  I did not want to live in the world I was growing up in.

Looking at this long list of books, there are many of which I have absolutely no recollection.  Some I only remembered when I saw the author's name.  The ones I remember vividly were about children and horses, dogs, magic and other worlds.

Some of the books must have been quite short because it appears that I read over 100 books between mid-June and early September.  I do remember that there was an element of competition in connection with this list.  My sense of self-esteem was very low but I was proud of the fact that I was good at reading and could read the books from the library that were designated as above my grade level.  I thought that it would be wonderful to be a writer or an illustrator and, using small notepads, wrote two handwritten books, both about horses, one of which had a few illustrations.  They were very much based on books I had read about children and horses.

I'm wondering if any of you read some of the books in my summer of 1961 book list.


And then there was the wonderful music on the radio.  I couldn't sing or dance and felt horribly inadequate in every social way, but I knew the lyrics to all these songs and felt all the emotions they evoked in my 11-year-old heart.


Brenda said...

Read most of those…great variety..

Pixie said...

That's a lot of books. I loved books as a kid too, still do. They allowed me to go someplace else. I'm trying to write a story now and I've found that it's not so different from reading or daydreaming. I keep thinking about the character I'm writing about, her family and her problems. We'll see how long this lasts:)

Sabine said...

What an amazing record!

Obviously, I read almost none of these books - my first English language book was a novel at age 21 - but I read Mark Twain in the German translation as a young child.
But like you, I went through periods of reading and it was always encouraged by my parents and teachers. There was a small library in my primary school we school kids frequented and when I left to go to the secondary school in the city at age 11, I eventually convinced the librarian, who was also the school's principal, that I was old enough to read any book I wanted. He was very supportive and helped me choose titles. I remember walking out of there with stacks of books on my arms. As for the actual books, I don't recall most of the books but some I have reread them many times since, incl. novels by Marcel Pagnol and Nadine Gordimer. Also Selma Lagerlöf and Jack London.

NewRobin13 said...

That is such an impressive reading list. I can't remember a single thing I was reading when I was 11. That was back in 1963, I was in 5th grade. We were living in the suburbs in New Jersey. I do remember the headlines of the times though that changed my life. The photo of the Monk who set himself on fire in VietNam protesting the persecution of Buddhists. And then of course, the assassination of John Kennedy in November of that year. When I was 11 the world changed and broke my heart.

37paddington said...

What an extraordinary list! Some classics among them, plus many titles I don’t know. Reading was an inspired way to manage your preadolescent loneliness. The book that blew my mind when I was 11 was an adult novel called Five Smooth Stones by Anne Fairbairn. It made me want to move to America and march for civil rights and be a writer. Look at that.

Sue said...

Thanks for the nostalgia trip. I was 15 in 1961 and remembered almost all of these top hits, even though I haven't heard some for decades.

Well done on keeping a reading list.