The Places Where I’ve Read

The Places Where I’ve Read

Sometimes when I write, I feel a connection to the front room on 1422 Dunleer. In those moments, I’m 12 years old again, trapped in that horrid couch made sometime in the 70s. I say trapped because the couch was tilted back and set low to the ground; so low that when my mother and step father had friends over and wine was had, any adults sitting on that couch either required help freeing themselves from its grasp or had to wait for sobriety to return so they could roll off the couch and onto the floor, where they had better odds of standing.

That front room on Dunleer was a magical place…it’s where I read Stephen King’s Different Seasons and John Irving’s The World According to Garp. Before that, in our den with the shag carpet and sunken area around a free-standing fireplace, I came to know the short stories of John Cheever while watching the fire reflected in the glass sliding door on the other side of the room, the only thing between me and snow and 50 degrees below zero with wind chill.

But there was a house before Dunleer…

Grove Street

134 E. Grove, where I learned to read. My older sister’s bedroom was littered with books; it was like someone tipped over a small library on her floor. Part of the fun, there, was in the discovery…finding The Gold Bug and Other Tales, a collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories, buried at the bottom of it all. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” fascinated me while also terrifying me. At night before falling to sleep, I was convinced any sound that didn’t belong was an orangutan with a straight razor coming for me in the dark.

On stormy nights, it was going to my mother’s room, climbing between cool sheets, and having her read from Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories. To this day, I do not tire from reading “The Dollar Watch and the Five Jackrabbits.”

There were winter afternoons in the living room, flooded with light from a huge picture window to the backyard. I could lie there all day with the warmth of shag carpet on my stomach after staying in place long enough to become its symbiont. Why not read Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine again in the middle of a Chicagoland winter?

Other Houses

  • 527 S. Chestnut, where I consumed Jack London’s works in 6th grade. It was my Kansas year — a year of living with my father. To this day, that book is one of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts.
  • 2735 Raintree Drive, where the bands Rush and Iron Maiden led me to discover the Romantic poets, which gave way to the discovery of the Transcendentalists.
  • The apartment on Grayson Drive, where I fell in love with my childhood all over again after rereading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.
  • 521 E. Worth, where I started writing with purpose and discovered my favorite book, Robert Olmstead’s A Trail of Heart’s Blood Wherever We Go.
  • Denton I — The house on the access road of Interstate 35, where I got back into comic books.
  • Denton II — The apartment in the middle of Cement City, where I think all I read were comic books!
  • 1670 Choteau Circle, where reading helped me get through being a primary caretaker for my sister as she stopped reading for good.
  • The apartment where I’m writing this blog entry, where I discovered Jim Lynch’s The Highest Tide, Border Songs, and Truth Like the Sun.

Future Houses

I don’t know where the future will find me, but I do know one thing if the past is any indication of the present: I will always continue reading books that I will carry with me until the day comes that I can read no more…

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  1. […] shelves full of books. I grew up in a house full of books, and if I had the space and time, I would die in a house full of books. I’ve made videos about books I have on […]

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