I was a late bloomer in many ways. I made it to about the 5th grade without learning how to read well. My teacher took me under his wing and by the end of the year I was years ahead of my grade. The first books I read were the Hardy Boys Mysteries and the Tarzan series. My mother had plucked both sets from the trash when her younger brother had move out of the house. They became mine then. I read them all dozens of times. A few thousand books later and I still think back to those warm summer nights clutching a book and escaping my life in a good adventure. I came across a single volume a few years ago and tried to read it. My standards had obviously changed. I could not get past the first 5 pages.
I carried the books to my favorite rocking chair, beside my favorite lamp, and reverently broke them open to revisit the literature that had inspired in me a lifelong love of language. The pages were as thick as a shirt collar and ochered with age. They smelled the way old books smell, faintly perfumed, quaintly mysterious, like the lining of Great-Grandma's alligator handbag out in the steamer trunk. I began to read.
Pretty soon a new smell entered the room.
The Hardy Boys stank.
Yes they did, but that did not stop me from reading every word.