Coming out of 8th grade, I had already fostered a passion for reading. My best friends and I were serial readers who constantly interchanged book suggestions. Daily conversations were like our very own book club. As I entered high school, my love for reading only continued.
1. I discovered the library. That sounds pretty elementary, but before 9th grade I had gone to a country school. We had a library, sure. That library was in our basement and often had out of date books (which of course I still read).
When I came to high school, I was hit with a double whammy. The school and public library. Oh, sweet sweet heaven.
Between classes, I would drop by the library and pick myself out a book. If I had finished my reading list over the weekend, I would walk the few blocks to the Chadron Public Library to hold me over (I lived 9 miles out of town before my parents divorce). The public library saved my life during breaks. Over Christmas break, I would stock up on my reading selection. I could spend hours perusing the shelves, scanning covers and searching for new authors. The libraries were my haven.
2. Parts of me are ashamed, and parts of me will yell it from the mountaintops: I am a Twilight fan. I don’t know if the word “fan” covers it. I was a member of the Twilight lexicon (an online discussion board of the book). When I finally had Breaking Dawn in my hands, I put off reading it for two days because I needed time to mourn the loss of my favorite series.
I was so engaged in Bella Swan’s world. Reading took me to a place of complete love, excitement, and suspense. I spent my free time discussing Bella’s future as a possible vampire and casting my vote for Team Jacob and Team Edward (Team Edward always). I took my passion for the book outside of the pages. I wanted to become engaged with others. I googled, argued, and discussed. Twilight pushed me from an intrinsic reader, to someone willing to share on a larger scale.
3. My freshman year, I had a teacher do something I hadn’t experienced since elementary school. She read The Hunger Games aloud to the class.
Every day, I would come into class ravenous for the next chapter or two. Her voice painted the story in front of my eyes. Katniss was on the train to the capital, she was cradling Peeta, the wolf mutts had just been released. I hung on every letter, word, and line.
When the chapter would come to a close, we would beg for her to keep going. On the best of days, she would cave in to our demands.
I woke up in the morning, practically bouncing at the idea that soon I would find out the fate of Katniss. I was so hungry for the book, and it was an incredible feeling. Not only did this kindle my passion for reading, but it also showed me the passion I can foster in my own students.
4. For reasons still completely unknown to me, I decided I needed to read Gone with the Wind. Okay, I guess I know the reasons. They just still shock me.
Gone with the Wind was one of the thickest books in the library. It was a classic. It was a thick classic. I needed to inhale it. I picked the book up, and I found that I could not in fact inhale the book.
The language was so far elevated above my head. I had a hard time reading through the difficult writing. Instead of pushing through the book in a day, it was a week. Then two weeks. I was determined to finish, and I did. Three weeks later. I was so incredibly proud of myself, and I tried to sell Gone with the Wind to absolutely anyone who would listen.
The read was long and arduous. I spent so much time and effort trying to step into the world of Scarlett O’Hara. I stretched myself to finish a book above my abilities, and it was one of the proudest reading moments of my teen life. It was a doorway to step into new reading adventures.
5. My phone rang, and I picked it up after the first ring. Abby.
I heard the sobs immediately. “Oh no! So you’ve finished it then?”
I had recommended, actually demanded, that she read To Be Sung Underwater. The book had so deeply moved me, and I needed desperately for someone else to share in that. I was terrified that she would hate it–and there was a lot in it that she could hate.
After the tears and the “I knows” subsided, we begin to investigate Willy’s intentions and Judy’s future. That moment sticks out to me as my fondest reading memory. I remember the terror that she might hate what I found to be beautiful, and then the relief as she reaffirmed my feelings.
For me, reading is the experience of choosing to fall in love. Sharing is hoping that others will see it too.