For this Sunday’s List, we asked Entropy contributors to share the books they read as children that were perhaps not appropriate for their age.
Once in awhile, usually at the beginning of summer, my parents let me go on a shopping spree at a bookstore. When I was around 12 or so, I snuck in A.N. Roquelaure’s (Anne Rice) The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. It is a filthy book. I read half of it at the bookstore. My mother picked it up and said, “Sara, what is this? I don’t know if this is appropriate.” I said, “Here, read it, it’s fine! It’s about Sleeping Beauty, her real story!” She read the first few pages and I prayed she wouldn’t notice anything amiss. She didn’t, thank god.
Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence at age 12. My mom said, “Don’t you think that book is a little old for you?” but she let me read it. These are the same parents who took my brother and sister and me to a French movie showing at the Fine Arts Center, and made us get up to leave when the man in the movie started to push up the woman’s dress as they were passionately kissing.
That would have to be “The Clan of the Cave Bear” series by Jean M. Auel and “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” series by Anne Rice writing under a pen name. Educational erotica to 12 year old me, but probably things I shouldn’t have been reading.
When I was 11, my mom gave me this book Garden of Lies by Eileen Gouge which is an ultradramatic family saga about twins who were switched at birth, but which is also full of completely pornographic sex scenes. Was a really mixed experience–I think I was pleasantly scandalized but also very aware that my mother had given me this book to read. I’m sure this experience could be mined for all sorts of narrative explaining my relationship to reading, sex, and maybe other things.
So many! Stephen King’s It, a Sandra Brown novel of my mom’s, Anne Rice’s ‘The Vampire Lestat,’ a biography of John Lennon.
Moby Dick, for sure. This “unauthorized biography” of The Beatles called “The Love You Make” that was about how much sex they had, The Silence of the Lambs series, and some romance novel from my mom’s purse called “The Thunder From Down Under.”
War and Peace. I had no idea what was going on.
I was 11 when I picked up Lolita and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, both discards with the word “Obsolete” scrawled across their spines at the neighbor’s yard sale. Literary sex and death cost 25 cents because that’s how much I had on me and the neighbor was happy to encourage my literacy (I don’t think he was aware of what he sold, or had even read them).
I reached a point where I wanted to read more challenging books than the children’s books I got from school. My parents gave me a few of their John Grisham legal thrillers to read. I read maybe two or three of them. The Partner and maybe The Firm. I can’t remember much about them. I think I was about 11 or 12.
My parents let me read their old copies of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers somewhere around when I was in fourth or fifth grade.
I hope this does not off as pretentious, but as a kid in elementary I was obsessed with existentialism and language theory….but the cake winner is finding dad’s copy of Helter Skelter and being too young to get it…just reading about some weird hippies.
Nathan Douglas Hansen
Black’s Law Dictionary.
Erin Hart Wisti
My dad read me Catcher in the Rye when I was still in elementary school.
My cousin read me Jaws when I was about 5. We were living on a barrier island.
My first reading of Frank L. Baum’s The Magical Monarch of Mo spurred and delighted me, but I had nightmares for months. Everything in the book that drew me would terrify me when I slept. Even just taking a nap I’d have bad dreams about it. Gradually, over many months, the bad dreams became wishes. I wanted to go to Mo and write my own journey there. I was seven at the time and was “allergic” to tomatos, chocolate, and wheat. Probably would have been better to wait until I was ten. Later, I remembering feeling so disappointed that a movie was made of Baum’s other book, The Wizard of Oz, and not the book I’d liked so much.