Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Book Magic

The summer was a fine thing, particularly when you were at the beginning of it, looking ahead into it. There would be months of beautifully long, empty days, and each other to play with, and the books from the library.
~ Edward Eager (Half Magic)

In astrology, the Third House is concerned with our immediate environment. Early education (particularly pre-college) is influenced by the planets in the Third House. Our relationships with brothers and sisters, relatives and neighbors and short journeys, all come under the jurisdiction of the Third House.

Ruled by Gemini, reading, writing and learning are aspects of the Third House, as opposed to the development of the higher mind of the Ninth House. Planets in the Third House show us how we communicate and our attitude and abilities towards acquiring knowledge.

I remember struggling with learning to read, until I discovered comic books. Then I got it, and I was off to the races. So began the insatiable pleasure of a lifetime.

When I was little, we were moving constantly, and my dad was often off on military assignments. So we spent many of our summers at my grandmother’s, just outside of Roanoke, Virginia. I had no playmates there, and books became my world.

My grandmother was a librarian at Hollins College (now a university) and therefore was a highly contagious book fanatic. Libraries are magical places that as a child I believed were the nearest thing on earth to heaven. I have not really changed my mind about this.

She happened to own the entire series of Oz books (probably first editions.. I wonder whatever happened to them!). Naturally, I plowed through with gusto. By the way, if your only knowledge of Oz is the Judy Garland movie, boy! Are you missing out!

When I turned eight, I got one of my favorite ever birthday presents – James Thurber’s The Wonderful O, which I laughed at, over and over, until my ribs ached.  I remember besieging captive audiences at the dinner table with passages from that book. Although amused, no one ever seemed quite as tickled as I was.  At least no one else spurted milk out their nose simply thinking about it.

I loved fairy tales, A.A. Milne, Dr. Seuss, all the Mary Poppins books (again, if all you know is the rather soppy Disney movie, the P.L. Travers originals will rock your world!), A Wrinkle In Time, every conceivable horse book, Nancy Drew, and a little gem called Half-Magic, by Edgar Eager. I remember the exact moment I fell in love for keeps with science fiction, thanks to Scholastic Books and Revolt On Alpha C, Robert Silverberg’s first novel.

And yes, I read comic books like a fiend. My preference when I was younger was D.C. Comics; Marvel was an acquired taste later on.

Of course, I could go on and on for hours, but I would love to hear about some of your earliest Third House experiences. Did anyone read to you when you were little? What do you remember about first learning to read? What were your favorite books as a child?

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  • March 11, 2011, 12:26 pm Susan

    The magic of a summer with books to look forward to – there is nothing that compares! I remember saying to myself when I was 8, “I am rich with books!” I had just taken my library card and my sister’s library card, gone to the library and come home with 12 books, not just the usual 6! All for me. I read many of the same books you did, Beth, and loved Oz, Mary Poppins, Gone-Away-Lake and of course, Nancy Drew and the Black Stallion. My mother and grandmother read to me when I was younger, Winnie-the-Pooh, especially. I have not read The Wonderful O, but it is now at the top of my list! Thanks for the recommendation.

  • March 11, 2011, 1:05 pm Julie in Boston

    What a lovely column. On this tumultuous day, with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan overriding the other ongoing cataclysms of the Wisconsin putsch and the Mideast uprisings, your blog provided a vehicle to a place of pleasure and delight.

    I still remember being read to as a young child, and one early picture of me shows me in a similar pose to the child illustrating your column.

    I continued the tradition by reading to my own children every night. Their childhood was vastly different from my own, as they were being raised not by two more-or-less happy parents in a respectful relationship, but by an impoverished single mom who had fled an abusive husband. Nonetheless, those nightly sessions with a pile of new books from the library were as magical as the ones from my childhood. I worried constantly about not being able to provide my children with what they needed to survive and thrive, and I was immensely comforted to read a little quote one day years ago: “Richer than I you never could be, for I had a mother who read to me.”

  • March 11, 2011, 7:04 pm Debbie Necessary-Gibson

    My third house memories are wrapped around many books. My father was a student until I was five and I was given books as a way to “be good” while he studied. I still own the tiny. hand-made, willow rocker that was my reading perch, and I still make the association in my mind that Reading= Goodness : ) even at 54.

    I distinctly remember reading all of the books in the “Borrowers” series and being fast swept away into a world where tiny people utilized everyday objects with great imagination. These wee people were “aloft” and “afloat” and took me with them.

    As a budding teenager with my roots tucked away in Appalachian soil, I discovered “Daughter of the Legend” and traversed my way deep into Melungeon culture, myth, and lore. I then stumbled upon the writings of Lee Smith and fell so hard and fast in love with her heroine in “Fair and Tender Ladies” that I named one of my daughters “Ivy” in honor of Ivy Rowe.

    Those books not only shaped my sense of imagination, they also made me proud to be a “mountain girl.” Ironically, I married a man of Melungeon descent, I settled on the banks of the Clinch River in Virginia, and my own “Ivy” is as full of fire as the character in Lee Smith’s books.

    My early reading became “prophetic” in many ways. All of which I am grateful for!

  • March 12, 2011, 2:10 am Athene Noctua

    Books had such an influence on me, they became my profession. I was read to by my mom almost every night, till I was 9 or 10, and I do the same with my kids. We also listen to books on CD on long road trips. As a child, I remember my mom or grandparents enrolled me in the kids book club, and once a month I got Dr. Seuss or Berenstien Bear books, and the first books came w/ a really, cool, red Cat in the Hat plastic bookcase. Relatives gave me subscriptions to World Magazine, and sent lots of National Geographic non-fiction to me.

    I didn’t really learn to read, till I was about 8. I was miserable during silent reading time in class and jealous of all the kids with their chapter books. One day, this boy in class took me over to one of the bookcases, and pointed to a row of books on the bottom shelf, and said I could probably read them. I picked up the first one, flipped through it w/ it’s short simple sentences and colorful pictures and realized I probably could read it, since it was written like a picture book. Don’t remember what the title of the series was, but it was 2 boys living in Hawaii, and I remember being jealous that they got to slide down waterfalls. I read the first book, then the next and the next, and learned lots about Hawaii along the way. The text became longer and harder, and pictures fewer w/ each book. The change was so gradual and the books so interesting, that I didn’t realize I had achieved reading fluency, and was whining one day about how I wanted to read chapter books, and the TA told me if I could read my Hawaii books, then I could read a chapter book. I said, “No, I can’t”. She pointed at the chapter books in the cupboard told me to get one and see if I could read it. Turns out she was right. I spent that summer reading On the Banks of Plum Creek 3 times.

    My favorite books as a kid were the Little House series (w/ the Garth Williams illustrations, I am a full on snob about illustrations), Heidi, Gone with the Wind, The Borrower’s Afield (which turned up in a bag of hand-me-down clothes, and I skipped the boring “Human Bean” parts) the Besty-Tacy books, A Little Princess (the Tasha Tudor illustrated version), The Boxcar Children, loved the Meg mysteries, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden.

    I love historical fiction and am huge fan of Patricia Beatty, who always had strong female characters. As a tween, I read Cynthia Voight’s Homecoming, Norma Johnston’s The Keeping Days book, and Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave/Merlin books. By High School, I discovered Stephen King- I honestly thought Carrie was a true story, and couldn’t sleep at night when the furnace came on after The Shining. Read the Sunfire Romances-a series of historical romance books, Jackie Collins, and bodice rippers. Discovered the Vampire Lestat (how anyone can read Twilight after Ann Rice amazes me), and The Handmaids Tale, which I fear is the US we might end up living in very shortly.

    I still read tons of picture books, kids books, and young adult books (a book genre/market that wasn’t around when I was a teen), for my work as a Youth Librarian. At home, I read lots of adult mystery and paranormal books. Love Kim Harrison, and there are so many good mystery series.

    We do Children and Teen Summer Reading in our system every year, and visit the schools to promote it. For 10 hours of reading, they earn a pass to the local zoo. The kids love the freedom to chose what they want to read. I don’t care for the standardized test that award points, because most kids read for points, instead of pleasure, and there isn’t enough non-fiction on there. Most boys, and males in general, will read tons of non-fiction, but it’s not considered “reading” by schools, since it doesn’t have a story. Though I don’t when reading, isn’t considered reading. Most males read more for facts and information.

    The most rewarding moment for me, as a Librarian, is when I find that book a kid can connect too, and suddenly they realize reading can be fun. I had one kid who came in, and didn’t want to do summer reading, because books are boring. He was also complaining about his younger siblings, so I suggested he try Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. He came back the next day, and said he LOVED the book, had read it one night, and wanted to know if this lady wrote anymore books. He also told me that I should tell his teacher about the good books. Those are the best moments of my job.

  • March 12, 2011, 5:00 pm Beth

    Oh, shoot! I thought I had posted a long-ish answer for everyone, but I am not seeing it. Not sure what happened…
    I am forced, I fear, to have to summarize at this point.. Oh well.

    The gist was — I just love, love all your responses! We are definitely kindred spirits here! Look how we have been shaped throughout our lives by the wonderful characters and stories from our childhoods! What could possibly be more magical??

    Thank you one and all… More thoughts welcome!