After our little John the reviewer kerfluffle, we saw a few blogs elsewhere continued the conversation about age and reading and reviews.
A lot of people misinterpreted our concerns with a wish to censor what a teenager read, which was never anybody's intention. If it isn't my child, I have no concerns what's on any child's bookshelves.
What was a surprise to us was the number of posters who claimed to be reading romance at ages as young as 8 and erotic romance a few years later. "Really?" Carolyn said to me. "Age 8 they were reading Nora?"
"Don't ask me," I said, "it was in the early '60s and I was still playing with Barbies. Why don't you write a blog post about it?"
"Well I just think I will..."
I was shocked to discover recently how many women had started reading romance - explicit romance - at a very young age, some as young as eight.
Now, here's where I show my Old Fartness.
When I was eight I was reading Little Women and all the sequels, the Bobbsy Twins, and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (those shiny hardback books, I had quite the collection and besides I was in love with Trigger). Also Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.
I graduated to biographies (loved anything re Elizabeth I) and autobiographies and segued into histories and generational tomes and then discovered SF&F.
The first romances I can remember reading were Georgette Heyer and she's hardly explicit. I think I was about 13 when I discovered her, but I won't swear to it. (It was VERY long ago, lol). At some point I remember trying some romance a la 'The Wolf and the Dove', went euwwww and never thought of romance again until I found Nora late in my life. Oh - but the backlist!!
So now I'm feeling REALLY old. Is it because it's a different era? With the discovery of online Romanceland, I've also realized just how naive and ignorant I was and am. Every day is an education for me. :-)
I don't regret my late start with the more explicit romances. Little Women was just right for me at the time and my eight year old heart beat wildly, hoping against hope that Mr. Bauer and Jo would get together; sighed with happiness at Laurie and Amy's first kiss.
I didn't need anything more back then. Sometimes I don't even now.
I agree and if that makes me an old fart then I'm happy to be one.
I read Nancy Drew I think while these others were claiming to read sex. I read Little Women and anything by Louisa May Alcott and Frances Hodgson Burnett.
When I was 13, The Exorcist (the book) came out and my parents bought it for me. I don't know if they would have had they known how graphic it was (fucking herself with the crucifix, the language and the imagery).
I was not a mature child. I was an age appropriate child.
However, I handled the book fine. I also still remember it clearly.
Romance came later although I do remember reading teen romances back when I was a teen. That would have been the early 70s. Our books weren't riddled with cussing, violence or sex. In fact, my favorite sweet 16 romance didn't even share a kiss, if I remember correctly.
My daughter is nine and she's reading The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. She's playing at reading Harry Potter. I have the whole Nancy Drew library for her, if she's interested.
I think I'll keep my Maya Banks books out of her hands right now. Geez, I really must be an old fart....