A Bookish Question

Kerry O'Donnell | August 25, 2016

I thought it might be fun to write and reflect on all the bookish thoughts and questions I’ve seen on various websites and blogs. Reading opens you up to new ideas and possibilities, and I hope this inspires some to consider how they might answer this question, and share it in the comments below.


What made you fall in love with reading?

I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books and reading. I’ve been told stories over and over by my family (particularly my mother) about how as a toddler she would leave out Cheerios and juice along with a stack of books, which I would “read” before I being allowed to wake her up. She and my dad both read to my sisters and me. From Mum, it was classic children’s stories like Dr. Seuss, the Berenstain Bears, Little Critter, and more. But when my dad read to us, well, he wanted to read the books that HE liked. So he read us The Hobbit.

My Fantasy Origins

The Gold Book 2I think listening to my dad read aloud from Tolkien was where my love of fantasy stories began. When it was his turn to read, my 3 sisters and I would crawl over, and curl up around him. He read The Hobbit more than once, and I can remember being small, perhaps 5-6 years old in my earliest memories of hearing the story. As he read, I could picture the story unfolding in my mind. It was exciting, and beguiling. My world ceased to exist, and I found myself pulled along by the events unfolding on the page.

The edition of The Hobbit he had was a beautiful gold, 50th Anniversary edition. I loved running my hand over the imprinted Elvish script on the thick cover. There were occasional, colored illustrations sprinkled throughout the story, which we loved to watch for on the page. Three of the four of us managed to stay awake until he stopped each night, at this chapter or that. It’s a special set of memories for me, that don’t diminish with time, like so many do.

Reading On My Own

By the time I hit school, I could already write, but weirdly enough, couldn’t read on my own. In first grade, one of my teachers took me aside for help. Needless to say, I caught on pretty quickly. That year I went from reading books with one sentence on each page, to reading chapter books. And then I discovered The Baby-Sitters Club.

BSC_Logo_(book_series)My obsession with reading was pretty much cemented by the BSC. With a new one coming out each month for more than a decade, there was plenty for me to discover. Reading on my own, I experienced the same transportation into the story that I did when my dad read to me. I especially enjoyed stories in a series getting to know more about the characters until they were as familiar as my grade school friends. Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley Twins were just as welcome on my shelves, and I was even branching into SciFi with series like The Animorphs and A Wrinkle in Time.

Through books I experienced things outside myself; other personalities, adventures, and lives I could never have. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was empathizing with my favorite characters, feeling what they felt, and it’s something I treasure as an adult. I fell in love with reading because it allowed me to discover worlds and ideas I had never considered before. It still does.

It Really Can Last a Lifetime

Somewhere between middle and high school, I began talking books with my dad. He became my own personal librarian, offering suggestions for further reading, series I should check out. He was my ride to the bookstore, and often the purchaser of my personal collection. I frequently pilfered from his shelves, and he encouraged it. His constant support of my choices in books possibly saved my love of books when school reading assignments would have killed it. To this day I lament my school’s inability to give students more personal choice in reading materials. But I was spared the fate so many teens fall victim to, losing their enjoyment of reading. (This was before Teen sections existed in bookstores or libraries.) I’ll forever be grateful.

So I went from a child who loved books, to a precocious teen who loved them, to an adult who loves them possibly even more. I love what they stand for, and what they can do for people in Me as Child Readinggeneral, and myself specifically. Books still transport me so completely to another world that I’m in danger of missing my T Stop, or I’ll miss questions directed to me, or whole conversations taking place around me. I get yelled at for reading at the dinner table, or bringing a book where they supposedly have no place being. I’ve owned a tablet, and an e-reader, and tried audiobooks too. I don’t care what format they come in. Getting to that moment where I experience another person’s world; that’s why I love reading.