Books – My Drug of Choice

My addiction started by the time I was two. The promise of a Little Golden Book would have me sitting placid and quiet while my Mum did the weekly grocery shop. Legend has it that she could read it to me once, then I’d read it to myself from then on.

I can’t remember learning to read, or even being read to. As far back as I can remember, though, are pages of books, with dust and words and pastels and stains and too many dog eared corners to count. The first book I remember causing emotional pain was Black Beauty, closely followed by London’s The Call of the Wild. I think I was about eight, no more than ten years of age, and books were surgically, magically inserting me into dragons, horses, dogs, spaceships, soldiers. I read far up trees, getting high.

A year in and out of hospital in a tiny country hospital came with the unexpected skill, buzz and taste for speed – speed reading. I was twelve, away from my family, sick, and books filled a thousand needs. I blew through decades of Reader’s Condensed volumes like fairy floss, inhaled the soft-spined paperback incense of the entire hospital collection within months, and attacked the one room town library like a devouring beast each time I was released. Books made me hungry, itchy, twitchy, soothed and lulled me, were my uppers and downers, buzz jolters and tear jerkers, and every time I moved house my library stash was the first thing I unpacked.

Fast forward two decades and I’m still addicted to books. My TBR pile* is huge, and I keep cheerfully adding to it. I have favourite bloggers, websites and journals I read to get more book recommendations, and have a not-so-secret love of examining other people’s bookshelves. I also delight in sharing my addiction – I have recommended books to newborns and ninety-four year olds, and all ages, interests and reading levels in between, with very few “I didn’t like it” returns. I bounce around when I’m told the book I suggested was stunning, fantastic, incredible, “nothing like I’ve ever read before but WOW!” I find nothing like the buzz of finding the perfect gateway drug (encapsulated in paper form) for someone to a new author, genre, universe and idea. My favourite books have atrociously broken backs, odd scents, food and drink stains, notes and underlines. I have too many pockmarks and pages where tears have fallen, and special folds holding story chunks guaranteed to make me laugh. I’ve only recently discovered Audible, and will never hear some characters speak the same way in my imagination ever again.

Mostly, I’m often stunned at what books do to me. They stretch my understanding, throw me somewhere other than here, push at my empathy, yell or serenade my preconceived ideas, give me heroes and higher goals. In Doctrine & Covenants Section 130 we are told any intelligence or knowledge we gain in this life, we take with us into the next, and for our benefit. What I have learnt deep within a thousand books, the actions and thoughts I have put into practice as a result thereof, are all packed inside my head, ready for the journey through each day – and eternity.

The mission of Segullah includes the following:

The mission of Segullah is to encourage literary and artistic talent, provoke thought and promote greater understanding and faith among Latter-day Saint women. We encourage insightful writings which explore life’s richness and complexity while reflecting faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our aim is to highlight a variety of women’s perspectives within a framework of shared beliefs and values.

As a part of this mission, Segullah will be including a book review once a week, usually on a Wednesday. The comments will be open for discussion on the book and related themes. I’m looking forward to the reviews, for your recommendations by genre and topic, and hope we can all increase our intelligence and knowledge (and TBR pile) through our books and reading.

*TBR pile = To Be Read pile

Until then, tell me – what’s the first book you remember reading, or being read to you? What’s the oldest book you still have (and love)? What’s the most unusual place you have ever read in? Which book are you most looking forward to reading?

About Kellie

(Blog Team) lives way on the other side of the planet in her native Australia and gives thanks for the internet regularly. She loves books, her boys, panna cotta, collecting words, being a redhead and not putting things in order of importance when listing items. She credits writing at selwynssanity.blogspot.com as a major contributing factor to surviving her life with sanity mostly intact, though her (in)sanity level is subject to change without warning.

21 thoughts on “Books – My Drug of Choice

  1. I’m so excited for this! One of the best things about the blogging community is that it has brought me together with other people who are as passionate about books and reading as I am. Would you mind sharing some of those favorite book bloggers and websites?

    It certainly wasn’t the first book I ever read, but I do recall pulling from the shelf numerous times a very well-loved copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, cover sticky with jam. I wish I still had it.

  2. My 15-year old son is like this. Books are like air to him. That’s how we describe it. I have no idea how many times he has read the Harry Potter series. He read the first one the summer after kindergarten! I wish I could be a speed reader too, such a handy skill to have.

  3. I have always had a love affair with books; but also crave an orderly, uncluttered home which feeds my spirit as much as books. The perfect gift from my son? My Kindle that feeds both cravings. I’m currently working my way through “Band of Rivals” and also read “Unbroken” – both recommendations from the same son who inherited the same “can’t live without books” gene which was passed down from my grandfather. I’m excited for the book reviews.

  4. Your gift for words offers the best argument for reading!

    I’m a fellow addict. And like you, books sustained me through childhood. Also like you, I learned to read as a toddler– but through the newspaper rather than books. I spread it on the floor and read it upside down and backwards! In kindergarten and first grade my teachers sent me to the library for hours and let me read anything I wanted. Pretty sure I read every book in that library.

    So whatcha reading right now? I just picked up the NPR Best Ever Teen Novels list and found a lot of gems. http://www.npr.org/2012/08/07/157795366/your-favorites-100-best-ever-teen-novels

  5. I also cannot remember learning how to read–books and reading have always been part of my life. I spent hours as a child devouring books, and now have at least one kid that does the same. Last night we had the privilege of visiting our local library to hear authors Brandon Mull and Shannon Hale speak about a new book series coming out and it was so fun to see a big crowd of people there that were all excited about books.

    I have worked in libraries for several years now and it’s a little bit like working in an ice cream store. On the one hand, I’m giddy every day at being surrounded by such abundance and diversity. On the other, I think I’m becoming a bit immune to the effects of books just because I deal with so many every day. I actually don’t even buy books very much anymore; I visit the public library about once a week with my kids and I work at a library, so we’ve always got books around

  6. I have always loved reading. But the book that first shook me was Bridge to Terabithia. I hands down absolutely still love that book and still get emotional when I read it.

  7. In the second grade, age 7, I won the spelling bee for my grade and got a gift certificate to a book store. I bought Little Women and it looked so HUGE and grown-up and my mom was unsure I’d be able to read it. But I did – in two days. It was magical to have a book of my very own. Then at Christmas I received the Little House series. From there I went to LM Montgomery. Then when I turned 10, I discovered the reader’s digest Jane Eyre and fell in love with the Brontes and ended up taking my senior course in college on the family. Books have shaped my life, providing necessary shelter from familial storms, guidance in morality, hope in humanity, release from stress.

    Downside to being a speed reader – there is never enough to read in my house!! My husband will say something about my being on the computer a lot, but it’s all in a desperate search for something to read without having to spend money or go to the library. :)

    I love following you on Goodreads, Kel, and I REALLY LOVE your book suggestions. I haven’t forgotten your most recent suggestion (made in person! Still exciting!) and it’s on my September list, when September quits being so stinking busy.

  8. One of the first books I remember reading was from my elementary school library. I was the first one that read it because it was new at the time. It was called Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. It is a darling children’s story about a little girl who did not want to be a witches child. Now my own daughter has read it and so has my grandson. I was a young reader and am never happy without a book. I enjoy keeping track with Goodreads. I have found reading to be the best escape, when you need one. But it is also better then any medicine to calm and soothe. I am so grateful that my husband enjoys reading as much as I do and that we have read many books together at bedtime. Reading has enriched my life in so many ways.

  9. Gyo Fujikawa’s A to Z book. I remember it most, and being read it again and again. Her illustrations coupled with sweet singing words.

    Someday my husband will understand that this is not a BAD addiction, this word addiction to books. I think, especially, that those of us who have spent long periods of time sick, or not perhaps capable of doing the things we wanted to dream of in life, can find great joy in reading about them instead. At least, I do. I don’t use books as a substitute for life, I mean, but I don’t feel such a compelling necessity or loss in some of the dreams I had which can’t come true, due to illness, because I can still enjoy them and read about them. That alone is solace.

  10. JP–I remember reading Little Witch too and then trying to find it years later but I couldn’t remember the title. Thanks for this!

  11. All I can say is, “Thank goodness for libraries”! If it weren’t for them, my house would be full to the brim of books. We still have quite a few more than the average family, but at least we have places to sit and eat :-)

    I love Guy Gavriel Kay (all, but particularly the Sarantine Mosaic), Neil Gaiman (all, but particularly Neverwhere), Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs), Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus), Mary Ann Shaffer (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), Cornelia Funke (Dragon Rider) and so many others. Looking forward to the book reviews!

  12. While I love to read (when I actually do it) I find I am afraid of the prospect of books – or rather, what they do to me. Hence I buy them with excitement and then procrastinate starting them (there have been notable exceptions of course), simply because my brain becomes so locked into that world that I neglect everything and everyone around me. As a mum of busy teens and a small child, begrudging their existence when I would rather be reading is problematic, so I steer clear, alas. Magazines are my middle ground, where I can read short articles in snatches and then put it down. My non-neurotypical brain has a lot to answer for. I’m sure the time when I can abandon the real world for longer periods will come, so I will just take note of all the recommendations and save them for later ;)

  13. I am a grandmother now…but I can picture myself sitting on the couch in my mother’s living room, holding “My Little Red Book” on an autumn day. I could read. It was like I had been blind but now I could see. It was first grade. I LOVE reading, it is like breathing to me. As a girl, if it was a book about a horse, I’d read it. Later on I devoured historical fiction. My oldest book is a copy of The Good Earth given to my parents when they were newly weds, by his step mother.

    The first thing I noticed about a boy I’d met in 6th grade (who eventually became my husband) was that he read books all the time! It was a very attractive trait. It still is, and he still does.

  14. For me, it was the Little House books, Betsy-Tacy, and Anne of Green Gables. I could read any of those books a dozen times and not get tired of it.

  15. The first books I remember reading (besides Dick and Jane) were the Raggedy Ann series by Johnny Gruelle. I adored those books. I got them to read to my daughter and while she loved them, I thought they were so cheesy. Definitely books to be loved by kids more than adults. I also spent a lot of time as a child with the Little House books, Mary Poppins, and the Wizard of Oz series.

  16. I adore reading. I sometimes have to ban myself from reading during particular busy times of life because I tend to neglect other things (you know, like my two children. Or my own hygiene.) when I’m in the middle of a good one.

    I read the Little House on the Prairie series millions of times as a kid, and I also loved the Box Car Children. I used to set my alarm for the middle of the night to read my Nancy Drew mysteries in the second grade.

    One of the first books that really pierced my heart as a child was Walk Two Moons. I’ve read it more times than I can count since then, and it still makes me cry every time.

  17. As a child I would not have survived wihtout books.I was directed to the adult part of my part of the city library by the time I was ten because I had read all of the childrens and youth books. The librarian vetoed those she found inappropriate, but my third grade book report was on Dante’s Inferno. I was never a normal kid. My teacher in school bullied me because of my reading habits, but it only made me escape into more books.

    I read on an average five books a day,on top of school work, shopping, chores and fixing dinner. I roamed the forests too, and in the summer I sat in a forked tree reading in a green world of my own. Anne of Green Gables series was one of my favorites as were so many others already mentioned.

    Earlir this year I went blind in one eye and thought life was half over, but modern medicine and the Lord gave me back reading. Wow what joy !!!

    One warning about electronic books. My eye doctor told me to stay away from them because they tend to cause doublevision, sometimes permanently! So, “if you can’t pick up a real book to read, listen to one” is what he said.
    I don’t know if that has anything to do with the amount of reading I do, but it might be something to think about.

  18. So excited for book reviews! I taught myself to read from “Hop on Pop” when I was four. My most well-worn book is an old paperback copy of “Gone With the Wind.” Still an old favorite. I have to take breaks from reading as others have mentioned so that I don’t neglect my family and home! I still prefer a real book to the electronic kind. I don’t think that will ever change.

  19. My very first memory of reading was sitting on my grandmother’s lap and having her teach me to read the “Dick and Jane” books. She was a school teacher and patiently helped me sound out the words. I don’t know how old I was — I must have been 4 or 5, because once I got to kindergarten, I remember being bored when everyone else was learning to read.

    You’ve been to our house — we have a love affair with books as well. There are many old friends.

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