I think I am fairly addiction free. I mean, I don't smoke, and drink pretty moderately, and I don't think I have a food addiction though french fries and a heaven made of chocolate have crossed each other in my dreams. Perhaps a chocolate covered french fry. I don't need gourmet coffee, though I do require it hot and like a big dollop of white, as my grandpa used to say. I don't think I'm addicted, but I do find it one of life's necessities to get me going in the morning.
But I will admit I love books. I love the smell of the printed word in hardcover or soft. I love the feel of a good solid book in my hand and the look of volumes of books lined up like soldiers on my several bookshelves. I find them comforting on my coffee table and the last thing I will often see on my nightstand as I drift off to sleep. I love curling up in a warm blanket, a cup of hot coffee and a good book on the damp and cold of many days. I like a good book with a bowl of popcorn and nothing on tv. I am happy when I can lay on a hammock on a hot summer afternoon, and be transported somewhere, anywhere that story can take me.
I discovered the love of reading in the second grade, though I think the seeds of words were planted as a child when my mother read to my brother and I. We most often requested a book of fairytales but any book would do and some of my happiest memories are curled up next to my mom, my brother on her other side, lost in the words and world of Rapunzel, Rumpelstilskin, and my favorite, The Wild Swans. Bible stories and Little Golden Books, we loved them all. In the second grade, on a trip to the school library, I checked out my first book, "Bambi's Children", and was hooked. I would read it every chance I could find and even sat under the covers with a flashlight to keep reading. I climbed a maple tree out back to read in the leafy branches. I sat on a porch swing and read, and I lay on the floor next to a heat register to read during the coldest parts of winter. The school library was my good friend, but I longed to own honest to goodness books. Books that weren't little golden books or thick paged Bible stories. I wanted to own a hardcover book with multiple pages.
I picked strawberries with my mom that summer at my great aunts house. I remember thinking the strawberry patch looked endless, and picking strawberries was something I did, but eating as many as I wanted, soon lost its lure, and it was just seeing how fast I could fill the quart boxes and working my way down, down that long patch. My payment for helping pick strawberries was a trip to town and I got to pick out two real books of my choice. I became the proud owner of "The Bobbsey Twins", and so started my love affair with not only reading, but owning books. I asked for books for birthdays and Christmas. I asked for a book in my Easter basket. When my class at school had book sales, I begged for books, and I usually was allowed to order at least one or two. When the big cardboard box would arrive with our order at school, no one was more excited than I to get my "order", and be allowed to get new books to take home and enjoy and enjoy.
In the fourth grade I joined my first book club and became a Happy Hollister fan. I collected probably 15 of the books from this set, and loved them but along about fifth or sixth grade I discovered Trixie Belden. For the next few years though I continued to read everything I could, I collected Trixie Belden every time I earned extra money. No books I owned were read and reread as much as my Trixie books. I read Nancy Drew and even some Hardy Boys, but just never connected with them as I did Trixie, and her brothers, Brian and Mart, her friends, Honey and Diana, and Honey's adopted brother, Jim. All these years later I still have a set of my Trixie Belden books, not packed away, but on a shelf in Annie's old room. I don't know why I've never packed them away, I just like seeing them still sitting on a shelf, worn, but well loved.
The end of my 8th grade year, my grandma and my mother took me to see "Gone with the Wind". GWTW was brought out only every 8 years to the theaters and it was my introduction to the tradition of going to see it. I was enthralled by the movie and read the 800 page book that summer. It would start a tradition of sorts where I would read GWTW every year. I had a wonderful English teacher my freshmen year of high school who encouraged reading and even had us read a book in class, "The Outsiders" which ultimately became another beloved favorite. In my junior year, I took a class that allowed me to just read books. Classic books, modern books and books of my choice. I read "The Catcher in the Rye", "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men". I read "Christy", "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Member of the Wedding". I became hooked on James Michener and had a decade or more following "Hawaii", "Centennial", "Chesapeake" and "Alaska". I read "The Covenant", "Texas" and "Poland". I read "Space". After Michener, John Jakes came out with his Civil War triology and later his historical fiction of the United States. I went to college and then married and found new books to love. I went through a time with babies where I was lucky to read the newspaper, but there was always a book tucked somewhere and my book shelves expanded. I used the library, but just couldn't resist a book store and my ideal vacation always involved at least one good bookstore for me.
My love affair with books didn't end with fiction. I bought books on antiques, on gardening, and on quilting. I bought coffee table books with pictures that took me away to places I would never visit. I bought books on artists I loved and wondered where the talent came that allowed their pictures to breathe life. I bought cookbooks of all kinds. I bought my share of self help books and books on raising good kids, and books on figuring out aches and pains. I was Gidget and thought any thing I needed to know could be learned from the pages of a book. I learned, that while I could learn much from those pages, much of my life lessons would come from just living.
I now have more time to read and it has become one of my greatest pleasures. When I run into another person, (usually a woman), who reads as I do, I almost hungrily quiz her for what she's reading and what she suggests. If we've read the same books, I compare notes. Everyone tells me I need to join a book club, but that is easier said than done, out here in my quiet country where most of my friends share books with each other and then pass those same books on to others. So, it was with great pleasure that I sat and talked to a fellow woman reader, the other night and we talked books and authors we liked, and a warm glow spread. Books have that way about them....