When I was a little girl, I was rarely without a book in my hand. From the time I could read, I begged my parents to take me to the library as often as they could, emerging with stacks of books so tall I had to nearly walk sideways to see where I was going.
In the beginning, Dr. Suess’s odd characters and the Berenstain bears kept me company, often teaching me lessons about sharing, cleaning up after myself, and being kind to others. The words that poured from the pages of those books into my young, moldable sponge of a brain stayed with me forever, as most children’s books do. To this day, I can still remember reading The Berenstain Bears Clean House and then rushing to my bedroom to straighten, organize, and label all my possessions…before immediately taking them back out of their shoeboxes to play with them again.
One of my favorite things to do, however, was go shopping. Some may think an eight-year-old wanting to go shopping is quite strange, with the lack of focus and concentration so often associated with such young children, but I was different. Now, you must understand, when I say “shopping” I mean sitting under racks of clothing on the floor of the department store, book in hand, and escaping to the worlds of Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins. I would sit unmoving for hours, helping Nancy or Bert, Nan, Flossie, and Freddie solve their mysteries, while my mom went about her shopping business. Every so often she would move me from one location to another so she could keep an eye on me, but, after switching spots, I would pick right back up where I left off and immersed again I would become.
Fast forward to my preteen years. Now, even better than going to the library, I would beg to go to a bookstore. Every six weeks when the report cards would come out, I would look carefully at the grades and decide how many “treats” I would get for doing so well. Then, I would rush home, thrust the card in my mom’s face, and pull her out to the car to go to Wal-mart, where I would get one, or sometimes even two, brand new R.L. Stine books. By the time we drove the five minutes home, I was already several chapters invested in the book.
The best, however, was again when we went shopping at the mall. Now that I was older and more interested in clothes and shoes, I didn’t spend as much time hiding under the racks of clothes reading. Instead, I would join my mother in picking out clothes. Then, after our arms were full of purchases, we would head THERE. To the coveted bookstore. You must understand, to go to a mall while living in Northwest Tennessee, was quite a feat. Our closest mall was an hour away AT LEAST. The good malls, however, were two or two and a half hours away in Memphis or Nashville, respectively.
This means, as you may have figured out, that the good bookstores were at least an hour away. This also means that when we found ourselves standing before the bookstores, I would ask the same question I always did. “How many books can I get today?” Sometimes, when I was really good, I got five or six! I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I never minded driving that far to go to the mall because, on the way there, I would spend the hour talking with my parent and, on the way back, my nose would be buried deep in a book. That was before I got nauseated reading in cars!
The older I got, the more invested I found myself in books. I loved writers like Sandra Brown, Stuart Woods, James Patterson, and Sidney Sheldon. Both my parents liked these authors as well, and I would often find myself discussing various books with them and getting recommendations for new reads.
In college, any time I went to visit my dad, one of the first places I snuck off to was the massive bookcases in his bedroom. I always new the top shelf was off limits, as those were the new books waiting to be read. But the other nine shelves in the room were free for the taking (as long as I remembered to bring them back). One year for Christmas, my stepmom got smart and gave my dad a little gadget that embossed “From the Library of (my dad’s name)” on whichever page of the book he chose to use it on. From then on, I always new which books were his and it reminded me to return them as soon as I was done.
After college, I got out of the habit of reading for some reason. I’m not sure if subconsciously I wanted to take a break from anything school like or what, but I didn’t read very much at all. Sure I would bring a book on the plane with me when I traveled, or read one if I was given it as a gift, but for the most part, reading was not high on my list of priorities. I listened to several books on tape during my sometimes lengthy drives to and from work, but paper books just never worked their way into my hands.
This summer, it all changed. I’m not sure how and I’m really not sure why, but all of a sudden the passion for reading has been ignited in me once again. I was watching Oprah one day and Rob Lowe was on talking about his book Secrets I Only Tell My Friends. The book sounded interesting so I logged on to my library’s webpage and requested it. Then I googled celebrities’ autobiographies and found a list of a bunch of books I might be interested in. After fifteen minutes of searching, reading synopses, and adding books to my request list, I had about twenty books waiting for me to read them. Two days later, I left the library with a canvas bag full of literature.
My favorite things to read are psychological thrillers, but I am looking to branch out to some non-fiction books and maybe some educational things. I often find my mind wandering when I read something I’m not interested in, so I try to pick books that really stimulate my brain. I love the way the words on the page come alive in my head. I have always said reading for me is really like watching a movie. The words I read have a way of transforming into images and movement. Instead of reading, I am visualizing the story. I do believe Edgar Allan Poe had a way of getting a bit too descriptive with his writing though!
Today, I am still into Sandra Brown, Stuart Woods, and James Patterson. I have added Harlan Coben, JD Robb, Janet Evanovich, and of course J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer to my list of favorite authors. In fact, I have read each of the Harry Potter and Twilight books at least twice, if not more. I am always looking for my next “favorite” author and always taking suggestions.
I find the escape into worlds of make believe as thrilling today as I did when I was little and will hopefully never lose the desire to read again. Reading is one of life’s little pleasure and I hope to cash in each day for the rest of my life.