Thursday, February 23, 2012

VBT# Guest Post : Spencer Seidel Part 1/2

Today's VBT# is from MediaMuscle and is Part 1/2 in the Lovesick tour by Spencer Seidel - today we have Spencer guestposting and stay tuned for tomorrow's review.
Author Guest Post : Spencer Seidel
A Kid and His Books By Spencer Seidel
Because my fiction can be so dark, I occasionally get asked what kinds of books I read as a kid. I suppose some people think I was raised on a steady diet of old horror movies and King novels. As Frank Zappa famously (and flippantly) said to a senator inquiring about what odd toys his children must have had: "Well, why don't you come up to the house and I'll show 'em to you." That's sort of what I'm going to do here. Hopefully, this short list of my favorites as a kid will bring back some fun reading memories of your own.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This classic was the first big-boy book I remember reading on my own from start to finish. I was probably five or so, but I don't know for sure. What I do remember is the absolute thrill the experience of reading something like this gave me. The little kid version of a head rush, I guess. I think I read it six times in a row.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
As I recall, I had to give this a start a few times to get through it. The language was tougher in Phantom Tollbooth than in other books I'd read and the concepts far more abstract. Once I caught onto it however, I couldn't let go. To this day, I think about Milo driving his car through that play tollbooth.
The Great Brain Series by John D. Fitzgerald
Man, did I eat these up. My favorite was The Great Brain at the Academy, but I loved them all. Remember how The Great Brain used to climb up in that hay loft and haul the ladder up after him so he could think? Or the fact that the kids were always fist fighting in those books? These books were gritty. Publishers would have a hard time with that today, I'd wager. Wonderful, true-to-life series depicting real, not-even-close-to-politically-correct kids doing kid stuff.
Anything by Judy Blume
I can't say enough about Judy Blume and the influence her books had on me. I read them all, even the girly ones like Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. And I probably read them all before I was technically old enough, and that's part of the reason I love my mom. Her philosophy was: if the kid wants to read something, let him, because he'll find a way to read it anyway. My mom is probably mostly why I have such respect for women, but I'm sure Judy Blume's female characters had something to do with that as well.
Anything by Beverly Cleary
When I was a kid, I was a strong reader, so they put me in a program called "Great Books." What a joke. I hated the books they wanted me to read. They were all ancient and had kid characters I just couldn't relate to. It's a miracle those people didn't poison my love of reading. Sheesh, if a kid is reading on his own, stop trying to control it, let him be, and enable the habit with all the books he wants! He'll get to the good stuff before too long. Besides, a lot of that "literature" is overrated--crap grown-ups think kids should read and not what kids want to read. Anyway, I didn't last long in that misguided program. See, what I wanted to read was stuff about kids like me. Back then, I guess I felt that way about Henry Huggins, because I couldn't get enough of those stories. I think a part of me still wants to be like Henry.
Honorable Mention: The Hardy Boys Series
I must confess that I didn't love the Hardy Boys books, but I aspired to read them all, as some of my friends did. If you're looking for a hook into my dark side, the Hardy Boys series was probably it. Something about their world was dangerous (but not too dangerous) and scary (but not too scary). Kind of perfect for a kid who is maybe curious about the evils people commit behind closed doors...

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