There was no definitive beginning that I can remember when it comes to my love of books. I sometimes think I inherited it from my late grandmother and her endearing love of the literature. Or perhaps it was the spur of an overactive imagination. No matter the reason, I found my haven alongside the characters of the imaginary worlds that so many authors offered.
I was a rebellious kid. Perhaps because I was also an awkward child. Growing up in an area where things were just so, I found myself on the outskirts of what was accepted as normal. I fell into the category of stuck between wanting to dive into the video games my brother played and obsessing over Shakespeare classics. That didn’t exactly earn me a lot of friends. But that didn’t matter to me. All I’d have to do is step inside my sanctuary, the library. And all was right in the world again.
As I grew up and my regularly scheduled obsession became an acceptable part of routine with my parents, I began to hand off my favorites to my younger sister. With quite a few years between us, I was old enough to pick up the ‘young adult’ books while she was still regulated to the kiddy stuff. But that didn’t stop me. Having known the oppression of being expected to stay in my lane, I decided that my sister wouldn’t go through the same thing. She knew how to read above her grade and though perhaps sometimes it went over her head, I would still stack twice as many books as I could really read, half of which meant for a smuggling operation back at home to her room instead of mine.
That love of stories and the importance they held for me didn’t stop there. I would consume any kind of reading or creative storytelling I could find. From interactive games to the geeky forum of tabletop roleplaying. I explored them all. It was this avenue that led me to where I am today. An acceptable and loving geek with a plethora of books, and my own stories just bursting to be told. It took me a while to find that center of who I really was.
But when I realized that Shakespeare would have been a geek if he were in our time, I was okay with being me.
It was clear from the time I was old enough to pick up my first book that there was no turning back. My family encouraged me, and as little as I remember of being a child I remember those times of my parents, neither of whom were readers, taking the time to pass on a habit that neither of them had. And when I got old enough to reach up past the kids library shelves it was my sister passing me the books at the top, the ones that were “above my age”, but certainly not above my curiosity. We would take things home from the library, and then she would pass me the books I had chosen from her bag. It felt like some kind of grand heist; so it was not that surprising that I always tried my luck with what I could get away with, where books were concerned.
In the end books were the only thing that worked as a childhood punishment for me. Anything else taken away, friends or tv or whatever else parents normally think of, I would just shrug, return to my room, and open up my books. It was only when my mom finally figured this out that any kind of grounding became effective. Unconventional, sure, but for me it was the only thing that would work. It was the same in school; I was a good student, but I always had my nose in a book. Every instance of trouble was me stuck in the wizarding world instead of in my math class. It became such a running joke with one teach in particular that she wouldn’t even yell, just simply walk by and take the book out of my hands, returning it at the end of class, but even that wasn’t going to stop me. I remember an early morning class where she plucked a book from my hands and, when she turned away, I immediately pulled another from my bag and opened it up, just to see what she would do. Luckily the joke landed and I didn’t end up in detention because of having too many books in my backpack.
After years of all of that I think it was a bit of a surprise to everyone when I started college in a Pre-med program, and absolutely no surprise at all when a year and a half later I decided to switch to Literature. A couple of dozens useless science credits later and a very long conversation with a confused academic counselor, I was no longer getting in trouble for reading in class.