On Reading

How old were you when you fell in love with books and all that comes with them? The endless worlds, the abyss of possibilities, the characters with their private, inner thoughts you too have once had. The smell of the pulp wafting up as you turn the pages. The recognition of a feeling, the realization of a new way of thinking.

My mom gave me my love for reading. Every night, before we were reading chapter books ourselves, my sister and I looked forward to story time when we piled into our parents’ bed and Mom would read a chapter to us from the likes of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Roald Dahl, and Louisa May Alcott. I remember picturing the Little Women literally as being two inches tall as Mom read. I thought they sure had a wealth of problems for such tiny creatures. We grew up in the original ranch house on our family ranch, built in the 1920s, and in many ways were a modern version of the Ingalls family. I remember one spring we had a tornado warning and so we brought pillows and flashlights into my parents’ closet and mom read Matilda to us. I was more scared of her Miss Trunchbull voice than the thunder outside. She was so good at doing voices as she read to us. Almost like a theatre production. That got my imagination going and I’ve been hooked on becoming immersed in stories ever since.

In grade school I read the entire series of The Boxcar Children, The Baby-Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, and Sweet Valley High. I had a tree about 200 yards from the house that I would go sit and read in after school until dinner was ready. On the weekends I’d load my bike basket with a few books, a kitten or two, and some Oreos and Capri Suns, and ride down to the creek bank to spend the afternoon reading. I spent years completing my collection of Sweet Valley High with trips to Half Price Books when we’d visit my aunt in Dallas. Child of the 90s, right here!

In middle school I was much more introverted than I am now and—no kidding—generally read about six books at a time, and insisted on carrying them all to school in my backpack. I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. But books were my way to escape the scary world of junior high when the girls started wearing makeup and shaving their legs and the boys started getting pimples and kissing the girls.

In high school I couldn’t stand to be told what to read, and aced my English classes by reading the CliffsNotes of the great literature classics, and spending my time reading what I really wanted to—Stephen King, Christopher Pike, and Dean Koontz. The two novels I actually read with my class—The Scarlet Letter and Ethan Frome—I actually enjoyed, and ironically I’ve spent much of my adult reading life catching up on the classics I missed in Mrs. Moseley’s class.

As an adult I read all across the board: mainstream and women’s fiction, mysteries, thrillers, non-fiction, humor, and particularly enjoy Southern fiction. I’m in three different book clubs currently and I’ll be sure to post about those here, too. Follow me on Goodreads for more recommendations on what to read next. Stay tuned!

~Bren

Brenda

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