In our continuing series on first encounters with adult literature, here’s a guest post from reviewer Diane Colson:
My mother’s collection of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books was my first library. By third or fourth grade (circa 1965,) I had pretty much read all of the chapter books in our tiny juvenile section at the public library. For some reason, the RDC books had always captured my imagination. They were somber-looking, but colorful. My mother kept them neatly arranged. The first one I chose was entitled, Carol – which was the name of my baby sister born that year. Carol was about a girl who died of leukemia, written by her father. I could not stop thinking about that book. The fact that a young girl could die. The grief, and religious struggle, of her father. Images like Carol setting her wig on her globe. (I had a globe!) Now I see that Carol was an excerpt from Peter DeVries’s The Blood of the Lamb. It’s fairly sophisticated writing; I wouldn’t recommend it to an eight year-old nowadays. But thank goodness my mother didn’t care. Thank goodness there were no Accelerated Reading Scores or Lexile requirements. I read those RDCBs until I left home, and never had to account for them in any way.