Friday, April 24, 2009

Worship at the Temple of Reading

I come from a family of readers.  When my sister and I were little, the treat of visiting our grandma was the promise of being read to.  She had such an expressive and soothing voice, and no matter how many times we'd heard it, she read Howdy Doody's Animal Friends (I know, OLD book) as much as we wanted her to.  That book, a Little Golden Book, was so impressed upon us, that my sister went so far as to spend a little chunk of change on a copy she found on Ebay. This same grandma also made sure that we had a library card at all times.  She's 98 years old, and she still reads like a fiend.

But, like I said, I come from a family of readers.  My aunt has stacks of books around her house and the dream room she'd like built on to her house is her own library.  My mom reads just as much.  Growing up, she always had a book sitting on the end table beside her chair.  And even though I'd been raised on books, by around middle school I'd lost the desire to read altogether. 

I'd like to attribute it to hormones or my age or the fact that 'cool' kids didn't read, but that's not true.  I just fell out of love with reading.  I faked my way through book reports, watched movie adaptations... anything to get out of actually reading.  The one - and only - book that I read cover to cover in high school was Dean Koontz's Lightning.  Good Book.  

Then my life changed.  BANG!  Let me digress and say that I met my husband when we were in high school.  He graduated and joined the Navy.  But, we were still together and I got pregnant. Oooh, scandalous.  Well, it happened.  My daughter was born just before my Junior year.  I took a year off of school to be with her, but finished my last two years in one year and managed to graduate with my class.

During that year off, I fell back in love with reading.  I was kind of in a social limbo; my friends couldn't relate, older mothers couldn't relate.  I was on my own.  But I had books.  I read, and read, and read and read some more.  And that renewed love of reading sparked my love of writing.  Even now if I'm not pounding away at my keyboard, I've got my nose buried in a book. And as my children could attest, the one item they are never denied no matter what, is a book. 

Reading is so central to my life that my husband almost won't watch any movies with me that have been adapted from books I've read.  I gripe and complain and whine the whole time.  The book is better!  No Hollywood sparkle can create on the screen what your mind can paint. Writers painstakingly construct an alternate world so vivid that you can't help but loose yourself in the pages.  We laugh, we cry, we love and hate.  We root for the underdog and curse the villain.  When we come to the last page, we grieve that the story is over.  

Maybe someday my kids will worship at the temple of reading like I do, driving their spouses and kids just a little crazy. ;)  And I can only hope that my writing will someday do justice to all of the writers that have meant so much to me.  


Davin Malasarn said...

This is a wonderful post! Thanks for talking about your life and your reading so personally. It's very interesting. I read a lot when I was very young and then didn't read much during my middle school and high school years because so much reading was forced on us and analyzing books seemed like such a mystery. Now I'm back to reading for pleasure, and it makes all the difference.

Jenn Johansson said...

Great post! I love reading too and you described that passion eloquently. :D Thanks for sharing and nice to meet ya! ;)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal story about your love of reading! I have loved books since a young age too, and to this day still love getting lost in the pages of a good book!

Mary Lindsey said...

I believe it is genetic, Amanda. My kids are total bookworms. Thanks for this post. I love learning more about my writer friends. You amaze me.