January 29th, 2014


identifying as a reader, growing up

When I was a kid I identified as a 'reader.' I think above anything else that was my self-image. From the time I started reading, every word that came within sight was fascinating: I read the toothpaste tube, sounding out the ridiculous ingredients. I tore through the beginner reading books my school made my parents get with wild delight and then, once I moved to a place with a library nearby, OH my world was changed. I always borrowed the maximum number of books and then ran out of them before the two weeks was up when my mom would take me back. I participated in Pizza Hut's BookIt program but I enjoyed eating my reading prize even more than the personal pan pizza, because it marked me as a reader. I carried books on my person at all times, at least one if not two or three (I usually read more than one at a time and switched based on my mood -- worked fine except for Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books, which were a bit too formulaic); I had a black leatherish purse I got at the thriftstore that was just the right size to carry them. I don't have many memories from my youth but one of my best ones is when my Aunt Mary took me to a used bookstore for the first time -- and ze had credit, and ze told me I could USE IT UP. I think that was the most exciting experience of my life up to that point. I wasn't that picky back then; I would read pretty much anything (as evidenced by my willingness to read Nancy Drew), but the longer the better. I always hated when a book ended, so when I got into a long one or a long series I loved it.

That reading streak was paused when I moved out of my parents house and did not have access to a library or money for used books, started again when I began self-educating in 2007, and was paused again at the end of 2009 when my life got too busy, and it finally started up again last October, when I was not too busy or depressed and had a stack of reliably good books. I reread a bunch of Joan Slonczewski and Torey Hayden's books and I've been reading a lot of Sheri S. Tepper. Also the amazing Ascension and an interesting stand-alone called "Walking The Tree." I've been sharing my favorite bits of them via my cell phone. I have been carrying a book around everywhere again, and I realized that it made me feel proud and self-secure, like I was as a kid (I was remarkably secure in many ways, considering). It also makes me feel safe, somehow, like I have a measure of control over how invested I have to be in my surroundings.

I really want to write some reviews -- it's been on my to-do list for about 18 ages. Hopefully I'll get to it soon.