Today’s top ten Tuesday is more of an invitation to reflect — Jana asks us why we like to read.
For me, that answer begins with my parents – not only were my siblings and I feted with books growing up, but our parents read to us when we were younger, and we had a family practice of sitting around reading together – my dad with his Louis Lamour, my mom and her Christian romances, my sisters with Sweet Valley High and Fear Street, and me with…seemingly everything. I even raided my family’s collection, save for my mom’s Danielle Steele.
Reading was my chief entertainment: my parents dropped television from our home in the early eighties, before I was born, and so I grew up either running around the woods, playing outside, or reading. I didn’t experience the rival distraction of video games until I received a GameBoy around fifth grade, so my childhood was marked by weekly visits to the library and piles of books read.
In eighth grade my parents bought a computer, and it would slowly grow to dominate my time as I discovered the joys of Encarta Encyclopedia, the internet, and PC games. Even so, though, I remained a reader, though mostly of histories and Star Trek novels. I couldn’t watch Star Trek (at least until after we had a television during the last seasons of Deep Space Nine), but I devoured its novels – and scripts, because I bought two CDs that had all of the scripts for DS9 and TNG on them, as well as the preview trailers for each episode that aired. My Trek experience was uniquely literary: I sometimes ‘remember’ scenes from episodes that never happened, because I saw them only in my head.
In the early 2000s, I finished high school and community college, and worked in a factory to save money for college. My appetite for learning only grew after school, and I fed it with podcasts (then the hot new thing) and piles of books. History, science, economics, philosophy — whatever I could find. In 2007 I started posting about what I was reading on MySpace — a habit which has grown into ReadingFreely. If I offer anything I’d like to think it’s the chaotic variety in the end of year pile!
Reading continued to be a crucial part of my life even once I resumed my formal education, and afterward: I’ve been out of academia for eleven years, with no plans on returning given the risible disparity between tuition and value-for-money in the humanities, and were it not for the constant stimulation and companionship of books (for the right kind invite an author into one’s head for a debate of sorts), I’d go nuts. Books, for me, are vital to not only learning about the world, but engaging with it; they continue to feed my growth as a person.
When I die, my epitaph will say: “BUT I WASN’T DONE READING!”