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?