I don't remember learning to read. Or should I say I don't remember ever NOT reading? Family lore has me reading simple books before my 4th birthday. That's probably right - I started kindergarten at four and I know I was reading then.
I remember a house filled with books. My mother had a pretty decent library. There was a small library in the town we lived in during my grammar school years, but no bookstore. My life nearly revolved around my weekly visits to the town library (our school didn't have one, but was right down the street, so we'd walk). I remember the rule that you could check out the same number of books as the grade you were in - I guess they thought that's the right number of books to have for a week.
Somehow, I managed to convince them I could read more. I was allowed to bring home a stack every week.
In our classroom, we had small readers that one progressed through (they still have them, same company - in my son, Jake's 3rd grade classroom). I'd always be done with the lot of them by Christmas, and that meant I could read whatever I wished. How I loved to be called on to read aloud. It wasn't the being chosen so much that enthralled me, it was the reading itself, the love of words said aloud. At seven, I realized that theater gave me the chance to give life to the words on a page, and I participated whenever I could. It was a small town. There was no theater, apart from the plays we did in school. I must have done something right, as I always got the female lead.
And I continued to read with a vengeance. I loved series - they could keep me going for weeks. Nancy Drew? Once I'd finished the first volume, I didn't finish until I'd read them all - all that were out the time. I remember waiting with breathless anticipation for The Mystery of the 99 Steps. I was 8 at the time. I loved the fact that my mother had read them before me. I loved Edgar Allen Poe. The Brontes. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Madeleine L'Engle.
My mother died when I was 10. I quickly read through her library, then joined a book club. I had to feed my addiction. I was completely catholic in my tastes...I read everything from Please Don't Eat the Daisies to books about the Third Reich. Yeah.
During my early 20s, visitors to my home would see stacks of books everywhere. I slowly purchased bookshelves (saving my money - you see, it had to be solid oak for them - no veneer would touch my books). Still, my books would overflow the shelves. They were my comfort, my family.
And then I had kids. I literally could not read for a couple of years. My sleep deprivation was so great that If I sat down to try to read, I'd fall asleep almost immediately. Books for children didn't do this to me, most probably as I read them aloud. So my only comfort at the time were the Lambs' Tales, which I'd read nightly to my babies.
I started reading again just before my husband left., and then stopped For a year after, I couldn't read - I couldn't sustain thought long enough to gain any remembrance of the words on the page. It took all I had to take care of myself and my babies.
And now I read again. I really should update the section on books I'm reading, but somehow I forget. I love essays, I love mysteries, I read lots of books on raising adopted children and the prenatal effects of psychoactive substances. Small hobby of mine.
This morning I woke early...very early. Checking my email, reading up on the night's Twitters, I surfed from one site to another, before landing at LibriVox. I downloaded the software needed, and now I get to do one of my favorite things in the world....