1. I don’t do public libraries. The highest fine I’ve ever had to pay was in the neighborhood of $150. It would have been higher, but I talked them into waiving some fees. When one considers all the library fines I’ve paid in my life, I still come out ahead by buying books instead of checking them out. I don’t understand my mother, who manages to go to the library, check out books, and return them on time.
2. When I was in 5th grade, I fell in love with a book in the YA section at our little public library in Albany, Georgia. Much to my regret, I recall neither the title nor the author. It was set in Scotland, and there was a character named Kelpie who had the “sight.” There were two brothers, one who hated her and one who loved her, and of course she ended up with the brother who hated her. I probably paid for that book five times over with all the fines. I should have just kept it!
3. Another favorite book when I was a kid was Adopted Jane. When I was living in Anaheim, I was delighted to come across it at the enormous public library in Orange County, and was highly tempted to forget to return it. My honesty won out, and later I was lucky enough to run across a battered paperback copy at a used book store.
4. When I was 8 or 9, I bitterly resented being sent to bed when I wanted to keep reading. I’m not quite sure why it never dawned on me to sneak a flashlight under the covers. I would place my lamp on the floor, cover it up with my blanket, and hide under the blanket and read. That worked for a while, until the blanket drooped a little bit. The hot light bulb burned a neat hole in the blanket, and I got busted.
5. When I was in 4th grade, we had some silent reading time. Being an exceptionally fast reader, I finished very quickly. I went to the teacher to find out what she wanted me to do next. She didn’t believe that I had read the whole story, and asked me some very obscure question from the text. When I couldn’t answer it, she told me to go back to my seat, read the story, and don’t tell any more lies. I hated that teacher.
6. I began a love affair with Jane Eyre that has lasted until this day. I never know when the urge to read it will hit me, but I must have a copy available at all times. That’s why I have it on my e-book reader as well as on my bookshelf at home. An acquaintance introduced me to Wide Sargasso Sea, which tells the story of Bertha, Rochester’s mad wife. Wow!
7. My 9th grade English teacher opened up our class period one day by telling us that we had to read A Tale of Two Cities. It was a horrible book, she said, and terribly boring and we were going to hate it. She told us that we were not to complain to her under any circumstances, because she hated it as well. I went home that night and read the book. I went to school the next day and told her she was crazy. And no, I’m afraid that she wasn’t using reverse psychology; she genuinely seemed to loathe the book.
8. We lived for a year or so in a rented red brick house in Albany, Georgia. There were huge pecan trees in the backyard. Whenever my mother kicked me out of my chair and told me to “go outside and play,” I took a book and climbed one of the trees and sat hidden amongst the leaves and read, and thought how terribly romantic it was, to be reading while in a treetop.
9. I went through a brief pseudo-intellectual phase when I was in my 20s. The bookcases in my living room were full of the books that showed off how erudite I was, and everything else was hidden in my bedroom. Fortunately, I got over that phase in relatively short order; I’ve read every book that is in my house and in my storage unit, and many more besides.
10. I had to have my tonsils out when I was in the 7th grade. The only thing that reconciled me to having the surgery performed was my mother promising to take me to the used bookstore where I could buy a whole bagful of books to read while I was recovering from the surgery. My mother rocks!
11. I hate Vanity Fair. Had it been required for me to graduate, I’d have been in serious trouble. I tried multiple times to wade through it, and got bogged down in Thackeray’s interminable prose. After watching the movie with Reese Witherspoon, and liking it, I tried once more. Didn’t happen. Ain’t gonna happen. And I hope to heavens I never have to teach that damn book!
12. Because I read so rapidly, I run out of reading material quickly when I’m traveling. My husband used to find it amusing to see me pack three or four paperbacks into my backpack whenever we flew to Buffalo, until he had to buy me another set of paperbacks in Chicago on layover or else at Buffalo before we flew back home. And the time our plane had a three or four hour delay, I nearly went crazy for something to read. Now I have an e-book reader, I can carry around a hundred or more books in the space of a paperback, so we don’t have to worry about that little problem anymore.
13. I have an irrational prejudice against people who turn to the last few pages of the book and read the ending before they read the book. I think they’re cheating themselves, and being unfaithful to the writer. I remember once reading a P.D. James novel, and just dying to find out how it ended. I read faster and faster until I got to the end; my roommate was watching me with a bemused look on her face. She never knew anyone could read that fast.
14. I stole my mother’s copy of The Unwilling Vestal when I was around 13 or 14. She found it at my house a few years ago, politely borrowed it long enough to scan it for Project Gutenberg, and then sent it back to me. Did I mention that my mother rocks?
15. Like Chicory, I want a job where I get to sit around and read books. Oh, wait–I already have one. It’s the job I have right now, where I run out of work between 10-11 most days, and get to sit around and read books at Project Gutenberg or Blackmask all afternoon.