How armpits led to reading fantasy!

I am intelligent, compassionate, and loyal but wasn’t the highest placed pupil.  I’m not a morning person and thus not the child with trophies or a lot of gold stars!  Two things that do define who I am:  I regard animals as equals and excitedly collect books at the best possible bargains.  I wrote a blog earlier about how my stockpile started.  In my teens and twenties, my Dad’s friend – uncle to us – let us share his cottage on Lake Winnipeg.  On holidays from work, I loved going by myself with my dear cat.  I’d bring a box of records so I could record them onto cassettes, since my uncle’s player had a tape deck.  I would walk to the small store, which had paperbacks in a carton on the floor for 25c.  I read a lot at our cottage, as my kitty sun-tanned with me but had bagfuls every summer.  There must be a few still to read 15 years later.

Door To The Tower

It’s hard to imagine a large part of yourself on hold but university stopped me from reading.  I felt how many students feel, I think:  that I ought to focus.  I was too young to know a break was okay;  that I could fit in books of leisure if I’d worked enough with textbooks, or was at a standstill.  By the time I got out of there, I’d be surprised if I opened two leisure books a year.  I had one bookmarked when I was dating a post-university boyfriend.  I visited him week-ends;  yes indeed, with my cat!  Forking out tuition didn’t facilitate renting a home but I was a grown lady, wanting freedom from the family.  There was a cosmetic research company in his neighbourhood and I gave it a try.  I will never support tests on animals because it isn’t voluntary or fair.  What I didn’t mind, was being paid decent bucks for product testing done *on me*!

One experiment advised bringing a book, because you sat with arms still in a hot room for about two hours.  It was an anti-perspirant study.  My half-read paperback was at home, so this boyfriend lent one.  Among two rows, he said “The Belgariad” by David Eddings was excellent.  Fantasy, except in films, had never interested me.  There is a lot of fluff but I got a convincing endorsement about volume one and needed something.  I don’t recall how many chapters it took but was surprised I liked it very much.  I learned “The Belgariad” was a series and made haste to borrow the sequels he had and purchased the remainder.

The spell was broken on my drought of pleasure books!  I surely finished what was bookmarked at home and felt jubilation inside my very core.  An activity intimately belonging to me since childhood was back.  Reprising my habit recharged me!  I read John Tolkien and started with Madeleine L’Engle.  I look forward to Canadians Jodi McIsaac and Guy Gavriel Kay this year.  Also the anti-perspirant study gave me a gold star moment not experienced in school or university.  Apparently they identified participants from sweatiest to mildest for their purposes.  Laugh if you like but this once-overlooked child was proud to surpass everyone….  and be proclaimed participant belonging in the first chair!

Stripes Car 1987

Our dear Thumbelina at age 5 out of 21, on Mom & Dad’s car in 1987.

*  Enjoy the paranormal or fantasy?  Sign-up for year two of my challenge, “Ethereal“!


About RIEDEL Fascination

I cherish animals, plants, reading, music and free spirituality. I welcome you for articles, literary activities, and interaction! Surrounding ourselves with good people is a delight. I occasionally review at The Book Depository.
This entry was posted in Animal Rights, Book / Novel / Literature, Cats and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to How armpits led to reading fantasy!

  1. Dagny says:

    How well I remember those bins of 25 cent books – and even a dime.

    • A dime! Now that’s a bargain bin. I’m glad some of my memories resonated with you. If not being top dog in a sweating study. LOL!

      • Dagny says:

        Yes, I managed to escape the sweating experience, lol. However, I can also relate to the two books a year bit. College did it for me also. Plus about ten years afterwards, working two jobs is a reading-time killer.

      • Yikes, that is too hectic and I take it you drove to them. Oddly, I read quite a bit when I worked outside the home. I don’t read by day at home but spent work breaks with books, unless collgeagues got sociable.

  2. Carla Norton says:

    A wonderful tale of reading in an unconventional (and boring) circumstance. But I have been made curious … what was behind the door to the tower?

    • Hi Carla! Being with my cats was good, making money for underarm deodorent, as well as a beau lending me a genre I had never ventured. Oh, you see a young picture of Thumbelina in this article! Isn’t she special?

      I refreshed myself on my personal write-up to answer your question about a gothic novel I no longer have. Since Sylvia G.L. Dannet is largely unheard of and hard to come by…. The tower door reveals ascending stairs, to a kiln room if I recall right. The main significance is the character finds her Mom killed in that room. The novel becomes about finding out who and why, while dodging danger. Fear was palpable in gothic novels without being about horror, compared to today’s “cozy mysteries”. Another article of mine proposes that they replaced gothic mysteries in the 1990s as the popular adult mystery genre. Those cottage paperbacks were full of great gothic adventures.

      • Carla Norton says:

        My boyfriend said he read David Eddings when he was young and really liked them.
        I adore these mass market gothic romances, but I don’t enjoy reading them. They are like children’s lit. Written with a YA simplicity for the general public back when the general public read. I recently tried to read The Turquoise Mask by Phyllis Whitney and it just didn’t interest me enough.
        The Covers are the best though!

      • Oh, no no. I’m not enthusiastic about anything resembling YA or focused on romance, I promise. I love the good stuff, with real compelling suspense and adult tones but something you have to siphen it out. If “The Turquoise Mask” was no good, you saw a lesser Phyllis. Her writing is usually profounder and fuller and the mysteries more unique and involved than the covers suggest. So glad you boyfriend enjoyed David and Leigh Eddings! He eventually added his wife’s name because she always helped him get the women right and other touches.

  3. Carla Norton says:

    I have Lost Island by her. Is that a good one?

    • You know, Carla, “Lost Island” is in hardcover and I read those last, because they’re a decorative element! It looks like you caught my article about Phyllis that shares my favourites, from 1956 and 1957, about San Francisco: “The Trembling Hills” and “Mystery Of The Green Cat”. Three I loved since are: “Mystery Of The Strange Travaller” 1949, “Step To The Music” 1953, and “The Quicksilver Pool” 1955. The second and third are huge family sagas, real oeuvres, that could give no impression of simplistic writing. I expected “Step To The Music” to be a dud because I’m Canadian and it is about the civil war. One of Phyllis’ gifts is getting you to sympathize with her characters. You crane your neck for the outcome, even though this is not at mystery! It is about the internsl awkwardness of a family who belong to either side. “The Quicksilver Pool”, though only one part furnishes a gothic adventure, is about another northern family enduring the civil war. But there is no division and they make a mystery of one man’s previous wife. The measureable growth both novels cover can only be the work of a masterful authoress. “Mystery Of The Strange Traveller”, firmly a mystery, yields superbly-layered growth too.

      • Carla Norton says:

        I got both HC at the thrift store. Why I have them.
        Whitney isn’t available for kindle, and there are no reprints either. I bought, for the kindle, a couple by Dorothy Eden, a similar Queen of the Thrift Store Gothic. I read one by her once and enjoyed it.

      • Yes, Dorothy was a surprisingly in-depth authoress too. That’s what I hoped to clarify about Phyllis. If we get the impression somewhere that gothic mysteries inherently are awful, that conclusion can be in place even as we read one of the greats. It helps to meet an author with a stronger novel first but I knew something wasn’t jiving properly. So nice to talk over these older talents! I laugh thinking that most of my Dorothy Edens are in hardcover too. Paper-readers like me know which piles need attending first! [GRIN]

      • Oh, I want to add: I made a joke long ago that you can hardly go to a garage sale without finding Phyllis’s novels in some bargain bin. Booksellers didn’t know the gems I’m sure you will find the four I recommend easily! People on-line however, do know her children’s mysteries, which are often excellent, are rare. I was glad to find a whole slew of them because their on-line asking price is astronomical. It is a real coup each time I find them and I am only missing a few!

  4. Carla Norton says:

    I love thrift store/yardsale books, and have had then gotten rid of so many of gorgeous covers (I have moved so much). Anyway, I have so many books, I have to be selective about what I get, which is just one of the reasons I love my kindle. They have lots of old books now, some very affordable. I’m actually excited to read a clean, non old copy of Dorothy Eden, where I can make the font as big as I want. But I do equally love old books. I’ll look for the Whitney books you recommended.

    • Carla Norton says:

      I think the reason Whitney and Eden and gothic romances in general don’t get the respect is pure sexism. Our culture values everything male, and sees a genre created by females and consumed by females as second rate. I really think it’s misogyny, and it goes deep. And ironically, the majority of readers are women.

      • I scarcely read men authors (many who write gothics with female pseudonyms; supposedly the famous Dorothy Daniels is an example but her biography is vague) and I prefer a female, adult heroine. I have discovered a few male protagonists and male heros I like but I do flinch at first. With me I’m sure it’s only about wanting a perspective I relate. But you bet the public needs to open their hearts and minds a lot better and be much more flexible and sympathetic. For example, a lot of women professionals mourn Mary Tyler Moore recently as their inspiration for whom they could become. Men are getting better but as we have seen in voting results of my US neighbours; a lot of old school stubbornness persists. We will keep on shining our positive light as the example!

    • You’ve met that rarity who is not a Kindle person. ;) I value pastimes that are not tied to computers. The option is good. I certainly use music and photos that way but not so as to discard the original ways. Kindle is great for non collector-minded, just reading the words and indeed removes the quest for storage, a task I savour like a librarian and decorator at heart, because it forgos possessing a physical object. The simplest explanation is that for me reading is the minor part . It’s all about books as a physical aspect; the numerous triumphs and pride connected with that. I’m glad your thrill of finding special books is still there. The search, acquisition, and making a place at home are all gifts I love experiencing. There’s an extra thrill when an author’s autograph is inside! I can see you remain enthustiastic about bargains. :) You don’t bury the old way; you simply partake of the digital option. If I had kids I’d want them to appreciate CDs as well as cassettes and records. Maybe not my rare ones but there are a lot from which to choose of those too!

      • Carla Norton says:

        My Goodreads is not currently working. I write reviews on an old iPhone which is not in use, because it works better for me, but I used to be able to comment and things on my kindle tablet, and it’s stopped letting me post anything. I’m sure I can delete and get a new app? I’ll figure it out sometime soon. I just wanted to tell you, because I even wrote a response to your comment on my review today, but it wouldn’t let me send it or post. Ironically, Amazon owns Kindle and GR.

  5. Carla, forget “applications” and just use the internet normally (be it Goodreads or Amazon). Type reviews off-line if you like, which I do. The URL you get is wherever you post reviews, like Amazon. If you’re joining any of my challenges, just e-mail (or comment at any challenge page) to say which ones. Great to hear from you. If you haven’t heard me groan about it already; I use the internet wholly via telephone dial-up!

    • Carla Norton says:

      Yes, it worked! However it wouldn’t let me change it on my Kindle tablet ever even using, as you suggested, the dot com way. It worked when I tried it on my old, defunct iPhone (it works as a mini computer in wfi). Perhaps it let me change the password there because I used GR on that first. Thanks for the suggestion, Carolyn. I’m so relieved!
      Wow, that old form of internet! Well, I’ve lived with no internet for a few years, as recently as three years ago. My boyfriend and I were living in an old farmhouse in the country. But whenever we went out we were on our phones, being so annoying doing things online wherever there was any (thus the GRs on my old phone).

      • We really rely on dial-up rural internet because we only have BASIC cellphones that really are only for phoning if we’re out or on the road. We don’t even text, just straight phoning the rare time we need to (like wondering where he is after loading books at the mall charity book sale). ;)

      • Carla Norton says:

        Your no cell phone things feel so normal to me. I think we both came of age in the old days of land lines and magazines. Like, even if we are not old, we have lived in two different centuries, two different realities. Also, I don’t have a mobile phone now, just a regular old land line. Because I don’t go out places much, because I am on Disability, can’t work because of my Multiple Sclerosis. Hand tremors, balance issues, fatigue… I walk with a cane, because I can not walk in a straight line otherwise. So, it sucks, but it could be so much worse and it’s not fatal. There has (since the 1850s, when it was new) been a correlation between MS and how far you are from the equator (I think Finland has the most MS, but followed by like New Zealand). I bring it up, because of our shared latitude… I heard MS is “popular” in Canada. So anyway, if I seem erratic, my energy is very cyclical.
        Oh, I am on medication which keeps me stable, so if anything, I’m terrified that our new president and his awful administration will take all the money and services away from the poor and disabled.

      • I am sorry to learn that there are health concerns inhibiting your control of mobility and comfort. But as you say very preferable to anything fatal. When one of our beloved cats died young two years ago from a heart defect, gone after being happy and completely normal right up to that day, there were no second chances. More slowly and less shockingly, my spouse’s brother died of cancer and my friend’s Dad has little time to go. Many would give anything for there to be a disability to adjust to rather than a fatality of course. I’m so glad you appreciate your life around you. But yes indeed, getting the medicine you need is a must. The equator has been alright for my family, except allegedly giving me a difficult astrological profile to read, I’ve heard! Hehe.

      • Carla Norton says:

        How terrible about your young cat, that must have been awful. Even when they live to a healthy age, the death of beloved pets is so sad to me, because they are in your life long enough to be important family members, but they don’t have the same lifespan as us. It’s frankly traumatizing (of course my father died when I was 12, so I’ve been used to death since too young). But I know I’ll always get more cats.

  6. Thank you for being gracious more than you know, Carla! Too many glazed it over when I mentioned Love, even when it is near the difficult date (July 31, 2014) or that actual year, that it is a real relief to find someone responding appropriately. If someone shares the death of a loved-one it is because they want an uplifting comment or understanding. Thank you! Yes, it traumatized me to lose him in 9 hours, the only time he was unwell. He is part of a family: the male white of two white kittens and male and female kittens born here. There are also his Mother and two unrelated elders who love him very much. We are well healed I’m glad to say but notice his absence and miss him, every hour.

    Your Dad must have been young too. I’m sorry for missing him personally, whom I glad you know, as well as the parent figure. I am thick-skinned about funerals because many elderly relatives died when I was little! Only one mattered, at 16. I lost no one serious until my paternal Grandpa at 22. My other Grandpa lasted until nearly 2000, then my maternal Grandma until late 2001. None were as gripping as the passing of my 21 year-old childhood cat in 2003…. until Love suddenly died, who was happy and should have had 20 more years. Thank you again, Carla. I see that it isn’t even having dear cats long enough; it’s that they are our most immediate family members, in our life and home. It makes me happy every time someone takes an interest in this short-lived precious person, who exactly as you say, exceeds his life span in worth.

    • Carla Norton says:

      My friend just found out that her dog (10 yr old, large dog) has a year to live. It’s so sad, but I said at least she has time with him. So often that’s not the case.

      • Wish them healing from someone who knows animals are equals among those we love. As I wrote in the personal bit I shared, my Grandparents are the only ones who died that mattered to me but the passing of our cats are the worst separations of our life. Respectfully and with love, even the passing of my spouse’s sibling did not compare. It is not like your child and someone who is brightening your house every day.

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