The Daring Librarian has challenged librarian readers to blog about their passion for reading...to describe what drove us to be librarians and why we feel so warm and cozy with a book (or two or five) close by. So, here goes...
I can't remember a time I didn't WANT to read. Both of my parents were voracious readers. Obscenely thick and worn out piles of paperbacks lived on their nightstands and they fascinated me. Reading was important in my house and I know this because books and reading were everywhere and part of everything.
I remember my first reading crush was my subscription to Highlights magazine. The front of the magazine had its table of contents with every story fitting into a reading level chart. I think there were maybe 3-4 levels. I loved to see which stories were on which level for me to read. Oh the feeling of anticipation when the new issue arrived in the mail! I read every single page that I could and I remember my sheer joy when I advanced a level with ease. And then, of course there were the books....
I loved going to the library in school and the feeling of being surrounded by books. From the beginning, I had a an inner competitive drive to read bigger more "grown up" books. It was 3rd grade when our school librarian, let us choose from the "big kids" novel section. I remember looking for the thickest book I could find. I felt like I had achieved nirvana, checking out that novel! It wasn't long after than that I discovered The Little House on the Prairie books and got my own boxed set (a gift from my folks). I read all of them. All at once the world opened for me. Beverly Cleary, E.B. White, and so on and so on.
My home library, the Elmont Public Library, was not in my immediate neighborhood, but we had the Stewart Manor Branch library up the street. It was basically a store-front, but they seemed to have everything - imagine Mary Poppins carpet bag as a store. It was magical. My friends and made many trips to the library until one day I heard a rumor... You see there was..shhhh....don't tell anyone... but there was this book... about a girl who gets her... wait can I mention it?... It's about a girl who gets her period... but SHHHHH.. no one is supposed to know I'm reading it. I checked it out BY MYSELF. Ms. Judy Blume became this bookgirl's version of a rock god! She showed me that books could be edgy.They could be taboo. We were talking about Judy Blumes books in whispers at sleepovers and passing notes in school.
By the time I was 13 my bookshelf in my room was my own version of a growth chart. I held on to everything, but one series began to dominate...Sweet Dream teen romances. Who else, along with their 80's hair, remembers these gems? I gobbled these up, at least one a day and I owned about a hundred. My friends and I would trade them like baseball cards. I am pretty sure they were not the most sophisticated in literature (ehem), but they certainly fueled my fire for reading (which is why parents should never censor their kids' pleasure reading even if it's spongebob or some sappy romance). Flower in the Attic soon followed (I stole it from my mom's pile). Then Stephen King (stolen from my dad) scared me half to death but I loved it all.
The Junior High years were especially tough for me. Aside from all the usual teen angst and pubescent neurosis , my mom was going for breast cancer treatments and surgeries. Saying the word "breast" outloud was horrendous enough at this time in the early 80's, but having to talk about your mom's breasts with everyone was downright awful. I was scared. Books were a constant comfort. Libraries meant I could bring home handfuls without bothering my over-stressed parents. Books gave me my first feelings of independence. I didn't need permission. I didn't need a ride there and books sure as hell didn't ask me stupid questions about why my mom had no hair.
Thirty-one years later and I'm still reading books (big and small) and loving every minute of it. My love affair with reading has only grown stronger with the years I spent reading to my own babies and now the smart, somewhat nerdy but-way-cooler-than-me, young men they have grown to be. A second career as a librarian fulfilled my work-life in wonderful ways. I work where I love to be. In the immortal words of Chazz from Wedding Crashers, I am "living the dream"... fist pumps and all. LOL.
Thanks to Gwyneth Jones for giving me the opportunity to take the trip down memory lane and remember. Another awesome reason I love LOVE librarians!