I was way too young to be reading Harold Robbins’s Goodbye, Janette–especially the bit where a young woman ends up hospitalized after having sex with a freakishly well-endowed man. Traumatized doesn’t even begin to cover my reaction!
Now I’m 38 and I’m still too young to read that book. Yipes.
What books did you read when you were, for whatever reason, too young?
I read Catcher in the Rye in 6th grade because it was a banned book and I was curious.
Dad saw me reading that book, said, “Can’t you find something better to read?”. So I put it down and picked up my copy of The Stand by Stephen King. Learned every fucking curse word I know from all the Stephen King I read in 6th grade.
When I was 11-14 I was really into science fiction. On the younger side of that time period, I found a book about a massive hurricane: Mother of Storms by John Barnes.
Only after I started reading did I discover there was a huge subplot about VR Porn. Hoo boy, there was a tough conversation with my mother! – Actually, my parents were really great about letting me read literally whatever I wanted to, and talking with me about it if I needed/wanted.
Yeah, I read* The Exorcist* when I was in fourth grade too. It made me aware of the fact that the Devil was always just below the sill outside my bedroom window. Sometimes I even saw the tips of his horns. But even when I couldn’t see them, he was obviously still there, just under the outside sill. He’s probably still there now.
Animal Farm. I guessed the ending–I mean, come on, who couldn’t see it coming?
I also felt bad for the cutesy horse (Molly?) because they wouldn’t let her have her hair ribbons as they were tools of the capitalist pigs (see what I did there?). I still feel bad for her. Damn, if anything I’ve gotten more shallower and easily influenced by cute animals.
Heck, pretty much everything I read as a kid. I freaked myself right the heck out reading Night Shift and other Stephen King stories and novels in late grade school/early middle school. I got into Tom Robbins, and all the hippie sex and drugs that entails, when I was 12 or 13. I distinctly remember reading **Freaks Amour**in middle school, and that book probably effed me up for life.
Oh, but the one that tops the list has to be R. Crumb’s Carload o’Comics collection that my dad had. Whoa, buddy! Graphic sex, violence, race, political satire, sexism - or is that commentary on sexism, or both? - drugs, and just whacked out crazy shit. I read it every chance I got when I was 11 or 12.
All of this was behind my parents’ backs, of course. They were pretty lenient about what I read - I could have got away with the Robbins novels, I think, if I’d wanted to discuss them with my mom first. But I had no interest in that. I just wanted to read.
My parents had this opinion that if I picked something up and it was too old for me, I’d lose interest and put it down. I don’t think that really worked out.
Around 4th/5th grade, I read the Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby (great rape scene for a kid). I don’t think I slept for six months.
About that same time, The Godfather, which was mostly pretty good but has that freaky-deaky minor plot point about the bridesmaid who is too big “down there” for a normal man. For YEARS after, I had some strange misconceptions about anatomy.
On the plus side, I was a dorky kid without a lot of friends. So I figured out I could increase my popularity by reading the dirty parts of adult books to the popular 5th graders on my street. It worked! Looking back, I’m amazed angry mothers weren’t calling my mom.
James Michener’s Hawaii isn’t exactly graphic, but I read it while still in grade school, and didn’t understand some of the sexuality depicted. Read it again when I DID know about sex and oh boy, a lot of things made sense that hadn’t before.
I read The Washington Fringe Benefit when I was in my teens. It was making it’s way around the family and I started reading it and got hooked. My parents disagreed with each other that I should be reading it, but they didn’t make any moves to deny me this bit of forgotten Washington intrigue.