I was reading an article on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog about “Reading Memories.” I thought that I would jump on the bandwagon. I am going to share some of my book memories.
I loved unicorns as a little girl. There is a movie called “The Last Unicorn” based on the book by Peter Beagle. I loved this movie. I had the movie soundtrack and knew all the words! One day, I was at the book fair at my school, and I saw The Last Unicorn book for sale. I did not have any money. That evening, I begged my mother for the money. I could not wait to buy that book. I grabbed it and went to pay. My teacher approached me and took the book out of my hands. She said that I would have never been able to buy it as it was not in my age group. She told me that if I wanted to read that book, I had to improve my reading skills. I took her advice and began to read every book that I could read. After this, I became obsessed with finding the book. I looked in every book store that I went into. It was nowhere. This was before the internet shopping age. Finally, when I was 23 years old, my sister bought me the book for my birthday. I credit this book for a lot of things in my life today: my love of books, the thrill of books, encouraging kids to read, and motivating children to read. I did not like how my teacher denied me from getting the book, but it worked. I read so many books that year. Trust me… my BookIt stickers were filled up!
Speaking of BookIt. I remember doing this with my two sisters. It was fun to read and get rewards. One year for every book that we read, we colored on a bulletin board thermometer. At the end of the year, the principal and vice principal would always do something goofy. It was always a ton of fun. One year, they did a dunk tank, shaved their heads, stood on the roof, etc. I know that they do challenges at schools now, but it hit differently in the 80s/early 90s. Yeah, that is right…. you can date me by this. I turn 40 years old this September!
I remember reading with my sister in our bunk beds. I really enjoyed reading the books before her. I was able to discuss it with her as she read the book! I still do that to this day. I read a book and loan it to her once I am done with it. I only give her the books that I really enjoyed! I know she does not read at my pace. I want the books that she reads to be the best ones that I have read.
I remember going into the public library and the school library all the time. The smell of the library still brings me that comforting feeling. Even though the library moved to another location, it still has the same smell. My local library even has the same librarian from when I was little! The staff at my library are always so sweet to me. I really enjoy my visits to the library! I remember my mother dropping my sisters and me off there.
Some books really made an impression on me as a kid. In 3rd grade, my teacher pulled out a book called The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (this was before the movies). He was reading it in class right before lunch every day. All the kids at recess told me that they hated the book. I was enamored by it. The book was well more advanced for maybe 3rd graders, but I just had to know about the other books. I walked up to my teacher and inquired about the book. He was pretty excited to share the other books with me.
In 6th grade, a student teacher read us an Agatha Christie mystery! It was about poison and cyanide (I cannot remember the title). I remember asking my other classmates who the killer was and following the clues. As she read the book, I would look around and no one else seemed to be on the edge of their seat like I was. I could not wait for the student teacher to finish the book. I have looked for that book. I think it is Sparkling cyanide. But I have been meaning to read it to see if it is indeed that novel.
I remember that feeling of me having chore money and going into the book store. I was obsessed with classic literature. The best part was that the classics were always the cheapest books for sale! I loved reading classic romances. Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park are a few of my favorites. I also remember reading a book called Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo. It was a girl (the same age as I was) living in Sarajevo while it was under siege. What a powerful book for me just thinking about someone else’s perspective. I think a lot of the books that I read as an adult follow the same route. I enjoy reading about how others feel, their experiences, etc.
As a kid, I signed up for mailings for the official Babysitter’s Club Book Club. I would receive three books in the mail plus little prizes (magnets, pins, etc.). It was always exciting to get the books and swag in the mail. I would read them as soon as the box came in. I get this same feeling as an adult receiving my Book of the Month Club box! I used to love The Babysitter’s Club, The Saddle Club, Sweet Valley High, etc. There were so many great books that I remember reading: Smokey the Cowhorse, R.L. Stein, Sideways Stories, etc. I loved books in a series. I wish they had books that were like The Babysitter’s Club for adults. Just the same characters and different genres for every book (romance, horror, thriller, etc.). They sure did know how to mix it up!
In high school, we had SSR (sustained silent reading). All my other classmates hated SSR. I would pick out my book carefully and read it. I was so happy. I had a lot of social anxiety as a child and continued into adulthood. The quiet time was always a great time to decompress. SSR usually occurred at the end of the day. It was a peaceful time for me. I was introduced to a lot of new authors during this time. A lot of students would complete a book and pass it on when they were done.
One of my best memories was getting a permanent pass to the library during study halls. The librarian would give us a pass and laminate it. Typically, you had to sign up for the library the day before for the study hall. There would only be allowed a certain amount of students in the library each day. The librarian would provide both my sister and myself a pass for the entire year to go to the library. Being in the library would give me a sense of peace. We knew the procedures for checking out books too. When the librarian was swamped, she would ask us to check out a book for someone. I got to know the Dewey Decimal System rather well! There was a massive card catalog (this was before computer catalogs). I loved seeing the librarian make new cards for the catalog. I also loved the magazines and newspapers at the library. I read the newspaper everyday even as an adult. I would read the paper and discuss the events at the end of the day in homeroom with my teacher.
In college, I adapted to reading more than one book at a time. I decided to take all my literature classes in the same year. I started to develop a way to remember the details of each book. I had to know every detail for a test, paper, or discussion. I would read 4 or 5 books in 2 or 3 days. I was devouring classics. I still do not know how I managed to read it all. I would take notes, write in the margins, and prepare character lists. Now I can read up to 10 books at once without even batting an eye.
Being labeled as a Book Nerd to some people is not a good thing. I wear my badge with honor…. well, that was not always the case. In high school, I struggled with not fitting in. Reading in public was only pushing me into not fitting at all. This changed for me in college. I majored in Secondary Education: English. It was common to see others reading at the library, on campus under a tree, at the dining hall, etc. In my classes, we discussed books a lot. I never would raise my hand or speak up in class. One professor was reading my journal and thought my ideas were great. She wanted me to start speaking up in class. She told me that my grades would be docked if I did not. I was too shy to talk during class. It took me weeks to get up enough courage to talk. I am glad that I did. Now I cannot shut up about books!
Picking my major was really tough. I spent a year after high school trying to decide on one of three courses: Reading (teacher, librarian, etc.), Writing, or Animals. It was such a hard decision. I had every intention of switching my major, but I was so good at reading and interrupting literature. I thought what a great job to talk to students about books all day long. I wish that I would have pursued teaching more. I was a substitute teacher from 2006-2012. I did a few long-term jobs for two Reading teachers. But I was not reading certified (yes, English and Reading are two separate degrees in PA) and could not apply for the job. One of my fondest memories of teaching reading was when a student said: “I have really enjoyed reading Sherlock Holmes. You are always so excited to teach it every day that I get excited to read it with you.” He hand-drew a card of me as Sherlock Holmes. I do have a lot of passion when it comes to reading and talking about books! I think that is when I knew that I was on the right path. I am not a teacher today but valued my time in the school.
After college, I wanted to keep discussing books with other people. I joined a book club at one of my local libraries. But the age range of people that join local book clubs was not in my age group. They were always a lot older than me. I never felt comfortable there. The subject matter and genre of the books would not have been my pick either. Needless to say, I quit the book club. I am glad that we have social media now. I can discuss books online. But I would love to one day have an in-person book club to discuss a book a month! Maybe one day….
I have noticed that the genre of books that I enjoy has changed over time. I used to read a lot of classics, horror, and fantasy. Authors like Dean Kootz, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, etc. Today (at 40 years old), I read a lot of rom-coms, thrillers, literary fiction, historical fiction, graphic novels, history, and memoirs. I recently (past 2 years) started to read memoirs. I have quit reading popular authors like Kootz and King.
My husband and I both read together. We read very different books though. I read fiction and some non-fiction. He read a lot of technical and computer books. But we tend to read together right before bed. I really have enjoyed our quiet reading time together. I have to admit that my books are a lot cheaper than his textbooks though! One of his books can cost more than $100! WOW!
Reading and talking about books will always be a hobby of mine. Sometimes (like the last few months), I have been experiencing a reading rut. I just cannot finish anything. But reading has been an important part of my life since childhood. I am happy to be part of a larger community of book readers! We are out there…. quietly reading!