Friday, June 24, 2011
Book Blogger Hop!
It's Friday and time for the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Every week, Jennifer asks a question and hundreds of book bloggers link to their own post answering that question. It's a great way to connect with other bloggers who have similar (or divergent) interests.
This week's question is: When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?
I've been doing the Hop for months now and I mean it when I say that this is my absolute favorite question so far. The problem is that I'm not really sure how to answer it.
I learned to read when I was about two years old. It's early, yes, but it was all thanks to my mother, who read to me all the time, and my grandmother who encouraged me to read anything I could get my hands on. There's one book in particular, Go Car Go, that Mom read to me over and over again (because I kept asking for it). Eventually I had the book memorized and, from what I'm told, was able to recognize the words in other books.
Between then and kindergarten I learned enough words from enough books that I entered at a second grade reading level. It was nice because I got to skip out on the "see Jane run" books, but it also sucked because my elementary school library was broken up into two sections: picture books and chapter books. You weren't allowed to check out chapter books until you were in second grade, which meant I spent more time at my town library than my school library.
I think it was this distinction that really cemented for me, even at such a young age, that reading was my first true love and that books were kind of a big deal for me. I would sit with my kindergarten class in the picture book section of the library and while they'd be paying attention to the story being read to them by the librarian, I would be looking over at the chapter book section longingly.
I almost think that in first grade my teacher finally convinced the librarian to let me get books out from there, but I don't fully remember. I do remember that shortly after I was able to do so, I read chapter books so fast it made my head spin. I also used to read all of the dinosaur books they had, including this old-ish yellow encyclopedia with red letting on the cover that was about two or three hundred pages of nothing but dinosaurs. I'm pretty sure I read it straight through two or three times before I went to middle school.
My grandmother had a huge collection of books and would always let me read pretty much whatever I wanted from it. There was never any censorship or control over what I read. Grandma might say, "Oh, I didn't like that book," but only on very rare occasions (maybe once or twice in my entire life) did she tell me straight out, "You really shouldn't read that."
From her I learned the value of packed bookshelves and a voracious reading habit. She always had a book next to her, usually with an unused tissue stuck in it as her bookmark, just in case she wanted to read at any given moment during the day. She told me that when I was about four or five I told her that she must be rich because she had so many books. That, I think, is another moment in which my passion for reading was evident.
There have been so many other moments like these, moments that have made me realize that reading isn't just a hobby for me. It's almost an addiction...just not in a creepy, sell-your-children kind of way. During college I wasn't able to read as much as I would have liked and I felt its absence. Having this blog the last few months, reading as much as I have in such a short amount of time, has reignited my addiction in a big way.