Photo by Lin Pernille
A while back, some other librarians revived an old meme. Way back then, I started this list. Today, I found it in my drafts.
- I was a late reader. I don’t remember exactly how late (being home schooled at that point was probably a blessing). I do remember being a little mortified when my younger sister and I were both reading the Little House books at the same time. She’s six years younger, and was a very early reader. I think she was four at the time.
- Part of our normal school day included my mom reading aloud to us. She did this well into my middle school years (at which point my youngest brother was probably 4-ish). She read everything from Charlotte’s Web to the Lord of the Rings while we kids did quiet crafts on the living room floor.
- The saddest I’ve ever been at the end of a book was when the dogs died in Where the Red Fern Grows. Mom was reading it aloud, and we kids were scattered around the room trying not to look at each other as we each bawled softly. What a day. I remember being curled up under the coffee table and pretty sure I’d never come out again.
- Dad tried to read to us at bedtime up until I was about 11. He was insanely busy getting a PhD from Harvard, though, so books would take us an astonishingly long time to finish. To this day I think of Great Expectations as a 1000+ page book. Each time we sat down to read, Dad would have to recap the entire book up to that point and then read a chapter. Luckily, Swallows and Amazons fell at a time when he could read to us at least a couple times a week.
- The first librarian I ever knew worked in the children’s section of our public library in Dorchester, MA. She had a cupboard way up high where she’d hide new books that she thought I’d like so that I could be the first one to check them out. I remember my mom also arranged for me to spend some time learning about things like the Dewey Decimal System from her.
- I read a lot in high school. A lot. I’ve never read as much as I did back then. My mom had been an English major, so the family bookshelves were packed with classics, and we all trouped to the public library every week or two. If you’d told me back then that I’d love to write and have a hard time finishing books when I became an adult, I’d have known you were talking about some other person. Life is weird.
- I finished David Copperfield while home sick with a really high fever, so I have basically no memory of the book — just of its never-ending misery. Or was that my misery? Either way, I have no desire to try to rectify that impression because shortly after that I realized that it was ok to dislike most of Dickens’ novels. (Though I do still like Oliver Twist. Or rather, I did last time I read it, which is probably 10 or 15 years ago.)
- I’ve burned a book. It was when I was in college, and it was my math text book. Seemed appropriate.
- Majoring in English in college was great. I got to spend my days reading (mostly) good books that I (mostly) enjoyed. But unfortunately it made reading feel like work, so during the first week or so of summer breaks I’d have to read utter fluff to get myself back in the habit of reading for fun. My bookshelves still have the second-hand fantasies, mysteries, and thrillers that I bought at Half Price Books after my last finals each year.
- Graduate school was more of the same, only more intense. Grad school killed my ability to read for fun much more completely than undergrad did.
- Commuting to and from grad school (45 minutes each way), I learned to love audio books. We’d listened to them on long family car trips, so I don’t know why it took me a while to figure out that I’d like them for shorter daily trips, too.
- When I started living on my own, I realized an odd thing: I have a very hard time reading in silence and solitude. I’d always thought I was pretty into silence and solitude, but as it turns out, I’m into the kind of silence and solitude you can get in a family of six where everyone is sitting around reading. That’s the kind of reading I love.
- I have a shelf devoted to “books I’m reading right now.” Some of those books have been on that shelf for a couple of years. Maybe it’s time to admit that I’m not going to finish them.
- I don’t read much non-fiction. That said, two of my favorite books are non-fiction: 84 Charing Cross Road, and Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.
- I recently moved, and now all my bookshelves are out in the main living area rather than tucked away in the back bedroom. It’s like being reaquainted with old friends. Hopefully soon I’ll have the mental wherewithal to pick one of them up and sink into it for a day or so.