I did not update on Monday, as I was sick still. I am well now, but it is a peculiar health, one that seems extra fragile as I sip my Gatorade and eat my yogurt. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Let’s talk about reading.
Once upon a time, I lived down the street from a library. It was very tiny and I’m not sure if it was part of the county library system, but I have almost zero memory of it. I could not have been more than three when it closed and the big one opened across the street. It was the first brand-new building I ever set foot in, and I thought it was a castle. My father walked me through the doors and I asked him, “Which book can I read?”
“Whichever you want.”
My little head exploded. I knew I would walk out of there with picture books by the loads, but there was also the possibility of BIG BOOKS: the ones with no pictures, the ones for grownups, where the cover is the only glimpse into the magical coded world that lie inside. I was only just learning to read but I found myself cracking this code a little more every day and could not wait to get my hands on one of those BIG BOOKS. And here was my father, telling me I could read whatever I wanted? I knew the underlying lesson there: I could read whatever I wanted, so long as I could READ.
So I read. I read every picture book I could get my hands on. And when I was proficient in those, I moved on to others, like Amelia Bedelia. Then Judy Blume’s, then the most of the Babysitters Club series. I discovered my favorite genre, horror, though RL Stine. Then, sometime around 5th grade, I started reading “actual” novels, meaning not meant for the teen or tween crowd.
We moved, so my old library was replaced by another, and I spent many afternoons amongst its stacks, reading and learning. I was never one to ask for help-I have always been terrible at it. So whenever I had a problem, I went to the library, and I researched the hell out of it. I did all my schoolwork there. I spent hours perusing the shelves. And now…
Now there is a library a couple blocks from the house but I never go. I don’t need to. I have all my information in my pocket on my phone. I do like to go pick out a book or two every now and then but they usually languish unread on the bar while I hate-watch another episode of House Hunters. It was my eyeball’s fault for a long time, but now I find I am just not concentrating on a book as I used to. My New Year’s resolution was to read more, and my first book of the year was The Institute, and I’m only halfway through. It’s a Stephen King book about kids with super powers. I should have devoured that a month ago.
I wish I could read like I did as a kid, so voraciously. I love seeing kids reading. Sometimes the girls do and that’s nice. My cousin Grace and I like to talk about books sometimes, too-she is ten and plugged into all things middle grade and YA. Right now, she is reading some old favorites of mine, like Blubber by Judy Blume. When I was her age I had Carrie in my hands for the first time. Some might say a little much for a ten-year-old, but I knew what I think my father knew: You’ll read what you’re ready for.
And reading made me ready for everything.