20 July 2005

Hereditary or contagious?

Getting ready to move, I've realized that our house is full of books. Of course, this doesn't surprise me whatsoever. I haven't even started bringing my office books into the house, and already it's total clutter. What does startle me is the accuracy with which Gabriella can find her three purported favorites --Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye, Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist, and John Updike's Rabbit at Rest-- even when we reshelve them.

Yes, we do have children's books available. Gabi could just as easily tote The Very Hungry Caterpillar around with her, or Madeline in London. A few months back, she'd rifle through the Cliff's Notes and carry them around with her (she was partial to Tristam Shandy) but seems that was just a phase.

In the back of my mind you know I'm wondering ...why not poetry? Turco's New Book of Forms is the perfect size for wee hands. Or Braided Creek by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser. No. Gabi is down with the paperback novels. I will comfort myself with the fact that two of the three are women authors, and that she likes the cover art on Cat's Eye best. "Mom," she says, "that lady's holding a ball."

So what do you think: Do we inherit taste from our surroundings, or are we born with our own aesthetic values? Anyone out there who rebelled against parental literary leanings? (At this point I should probably mention that two of the three paperbacks originally belonged to my folks. Definitely hereditary in my personal case study.)

I can't wait to get an MFA of my own...


Byf said...

Interesting question. If literary taste were inherited, I'd be reading romance novels, tractor manuals and the Midland Daily News. I think it's probably a mixture of nature and nurture.

Just be glad that Gabi is into books!

Suzanne said...

I don't know about hereditary taste, although I'm pretty sure in my case that love of reading is hereditary just not the same books. The one thing I know for sure is that Gabi is adorable! What a doll!

(ps I can't wait to buy Madeline books)

brandijay said...

Oh my god, I can't remember the last time I saw Gabi but jesus is she cute!! :)

Maybe she'll be one of those supermodel-looking girls who could get by on looks alone but is also secretly a genius. Damn those girls!

Marlayna said...

She is so adorable Mary. You must be so proud. :)

Melissa said...

I always assumed it was nurture...or in my case being forced to appreciate good literature. I remember one summer I had my stack of Sweet Valley High books all ready to read, and my mom wouldn't let me have them until I read The Pearl. I cried and complained...and then actually loved it, but of course wouldn't admit it that summer. Now just about every Steinbeck sits on my bookshelves.

Penultimatina said...

in my case being forced to appreciate good literature

Oh dear...I could've written your response myself, Melissa. My mom used to pay me a dollar for every (good) book that I read over the summer, and it was an awfully good incentive. Maybe a little too good.

Byf, remember our intense adolescent V.C. Andrews craze? (Speaking of fine literature)

Gabi brought The Accidental Tourist to church with her on Sunday. At one point I was sitting there holding it for her, and realized it looked like I had brought the book along, to keep from getting too bored.

puremood said...

Aww, Look at Miss Gabi - she's such a ham :)

Melissa said...

I have to admit I still get tempted to pick up a VC Andrews every now and again. lol But I know she doesn't write them anymore so I've been able to resist so far.

I have many Anne Tyler and Margaret Atwood books in my collection...I may pick one up tonight...it's been a while since I've read one. Or maybe I'll just take one to church with me next Sunday instead. :)

Penultimatina said...


Hi there, Jamie! :)

Byf said...

You know, the more I think about it (and for some reason, from time to time I do think about it), those V.C. Andrews novels are certainly trashy, but not entirely bad. They carry consistent themes and pretty evocative imagery. Not to mention the incest and profanity.

I mean, even soap operas have redeeming value, don't they?