For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved reading books. I love being able to slip into another dimension & lose myself in a story. There’s just something so wonderful about being able to suspend your own personal reality & slip into someone elses.
Growing up I knew I wasn’t part of the popular crowd, but I wasn’t the school pariah either (unfortunately for her that honour was saved for another girl), but I did get bullied by some of the popular girls. I’ve never had a lot of friends & have mostly been fine with that – I prefer small groups to large crowds & like solitary activities more than group escapades, so I suppose it’s only natural that reading be something that I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I have terrific memories of hanging out with my friends in the summer, canoeing, swimming in the river, riding our bikes – just generally being kids & having fun.
Then my best friend moved to Manitoba & suddenly I was alone. Looking back, that was a real turning point for me. I lost my anchor & found that the other people I had considered my friends really weren’t, so I turned even more to my books. I remember in grade 5 , we had a bit of a competition to see who could read the most books that school year. We had to write a book report about every book we read that year & I came second to a guy named Craig, who beat me by one book. I was so disappointed! All these years later I even remember some of the books I read – like Murphy’s Boy by Torey Hayden. It wasn’t on the list of books that our teacher had approved (Mom was at college at the time & this was one of the books she’d had to read for her psychology class) & I remember my Mom had to go into the school to talk to the teacher about the book, about whether they would allow me to read it.
As the years passed & I found I had less & less in common with my peers, I turned more & more to reading, to the point that by High School it had become a survival mechanism – I hated my new school & just didn’t fit in. Even in my own family I felt like I didn’t belong (my Mom sometimes jokes that I should have been an only child) & reading was my way of escaping. It was also, I suspect, a coping mechanism, as I was that prototypical middle child. It took a long time, but finally in my mid-twenties I accepted who I was & reading became less about escape & more about pleasure. Now, with the every day stresses of work & life, reading is no less important to me, but sadly is something I have far less time to do.
My nephew, Zach, is also a reader (though I don’t profess to know what drives him to read) & I know that it brings him as much pleasure as it brings me. For his birthday last year I contacted the author, Robert Muchamore, who Zach loves. Mr. Muchamore was so kind & sent Zach an out of print copy of one of his books, which he signed, along with a bunch of other stuff to do with his Cherub series of books. I thought that was pretty cool of him! By all accounts my niece, Hannah is also a reader & is now getting to that age where I could buy her books for a Christmas or birthday present & I know how much they will be loved. I am really looking forward to Christmas when I can shower them with books! My ultimate dream, though, would be to have a child of my own to share my love of books with, but I suspect I will have to live with sharing that love with my nephew & niece, as time is just about up for me on the childbearing front. Shame, it could have been fun!