One of the most valuable possessions I’ve acquired over the years is a love of reading. I didn’t always love it, nor was I a very fast reader…then something happened. My sixth-grade “core” teacher informed us that we would have to read something like 1,000 pages a quarter. (I’m sure it wasn’t that much, but it might as well have been for how slowly I read). And then she proceeded to tell us that we could not read more than one book in a series. How could that be? The only books I could even tolerate were those of “The Baby-sitters Club” series, but she was trying to tell me that I could only read one of those. I thought I would die. I couldn’t do it. There was no way. But what were my options?
Even at that young age (and I was a young sixth-grader–only 10), I knew the power of communication. It’s fascinating to remember back to this conversation and how old I felt. I didn’t feel like what I see now as a 10-year-old. I was a negotiator and it was time to negotiate. I went up to my teacher, Mrs. Hoffaker, and explained to her my situation. I was a slow reader and the only way I could ever manage the reading, which I really wanted to do (kudos to myself for appropriately brown-nosing even at that young age), was to read more than one book from the series. Don’t ask me why I didn’t have my mom talk to my teacher. Probably because she would’ve told me to do it myself (another story for another time–one that has equally affected my life in positive ways). In any case, I didn’t and so I found myself having this discussion with my teacher.
I don’t know why my life has worked this way, but I’m certainly grateful that it has. I got what I wanted. Perhaps it was the big crocodile tears streaming down my face as I negotiated (the key to a good negotiation when you are 10, or 25, if you are negotiating with my dad–which is convenient since I rarely have control of whether or not I cry), or maybe it was just the wisdom of a sixth-grade teacher who knew that this moment would make or break my love of reading, but either way, the decision she made proved to be a pivotal moment in my life. I was determined, being that she had made an exception for me, to do all of my reading, and I did.
What I discovered during the process is that I love the world of words. I love being able to create the scenery and characters in my mind. The stories come to life. I love how much more knowledgeable I can become by reading a book. I love ideas. I love words. I love my ever-broadening vocabulary. I love being informed. There is nothing about reading I don’t like. Sometimes the stories are a little slow, or the writing is not my style, but even then, I still enjoy reading because you can always learn something.
While moving has become increasingly difficult with the boxes of books I now possess, I can’t bear to part with them. Each one has been an experience. Just looking at my books makes me happy. I know people like libraries and how nice it is to not have to buy a book, and the truth is that there are only a handful of books that I reread, but I like knowing the option is there. And I like being able to underline passages that move me. Not only do I want to own my books, I like them to be hard-cover. It’s true. I’m kind of a book snob. Oh well, there are worse things I could be.
And one of the best things about a love of reading is that you are never bored or lonely. I know that may sound like what some lonely, old, spinster, cat lady might say, but it’s true, nevertheless. And thank goodness, since my dad’s wife’s daughter (I refuse to refer to her as my “step-sister”) is in town which means that I am stuck in my little apartment over the garage this weekend (not that I can’t go into the house, but the one drawback of having an extensive vocabulary is that you often want to use it, especially when provoked, and that would not be a good idea considering that I am living in my dad’s house for next-to-nothing rent).