I love to read. That’s probably an understatement. I devour books. I have an addiction to books. I can’t get rid of books. Most I’ll read and reread repeatedly, and if they’re not the few brainless escapism ones I’ll periodically read, I mark them up in a different colour each time I read them so I can keep track of what struck me upon each reading.
Some of my earliest memories involve books. I remember trips to the library and each of us checking out piles of books – the 40 book maximum each. I remember going back to visit my grandparents in Chicago and going to the library there and checking out books while on vacation, and being so eager that I scraped my knees and ended up all bloody and messy in my haste to get in to a ‘new’ library!
When I was very young, my mom was horrified that my teachers would be upset that I already knew how to read when I started school. She didn’t want them to think she had taught me (my parents hadn’t – I taught myself) or for me to be reading the ‘wrong’ way. Not only was she worried about the fact that I started school reading, but I was comfortably reading chapter books.
Which I guess then doesn’t make the next book related part of my life a surprise – the thing I most often got in trouble for was thanks to my reading. Blending a lifelong lack of a need for much sleep and my need to incessantly be reading a book (or twelve) I was always getting caught reading by my nightlight really late at night or with a flashlight under my blankets.
Despite being well aware of my reading abilities, at some point my parents started wondering if I was really reading and absorbing things as quickly as I was going through books. Since I always had a book (or a stack of them!) with me anytime we left the house, because nothing was worse to me than finishing a book somewhere and not having another one to start, they began quizzing me on what I was reading. Initially it started with asking me the premise of the book and for a summary of it. I always passed that ‘test.’ So then they tried harder thinking maybe I was still just skimming because surely I couldn’t possibly really be reading and keeping track of the details that quickly – especially when reading multiple books at once. It was like my very own “star reader” or “accelerated reader” program long before those really existed. One of my parents would open to a random page and ask some obscure question, only to be puzzled that I actually could answer the question, finish the sentence, or whatever else they were trying to test me on.
Since my books are well loved and a bit like friends, they all have their homes. When I was in college and all my books were contained on a long series of bookshelves in just my one room at my mom and dad’s house, it seemed like it was about every other month that I’d call or email home and ask them to send me a particular book. My mom, especially, always puzzled over how I knew exactly which shelf it was on, what books were near ‘neighbors’ of it, and what colours were on the spine and font. For awhile she thought I must have photos of the shelves with me. Nope, just my crazy love of my books!
Now that it’s been fifteen plus years since I’ve had cause to send someone else hunting for a particular tome among my shelves, I’m sure they’re relieved. My house has multiple bookshelves in every room and I still could use space for more. Although the rhyme and reason to how I have them organized probably wouldn’t make sense to others, they’ve all got their own special place still. And while I know sometime I’ll have to start converting to the online book phenomenon, there’s something about physically holding a book and pouring over the pages of it that is so moving to me…even if my bookshelves are getting overcrowded! I suppose that’s why I couldn’t help but laugh when a friend posted this earlier today: