Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oh Written Word, How I Love You.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books.

I credit my family with instilling in me the need to want to read everything.  No, really, I truly do.  My parents used to read to me every night until I was old enough to read for myself.  When I was ten, my mother had to have me tested for a school she wanted me to attend.  Turns out that I had a reading comprehension level of a college student!  For those of you who don't know what that means, I understood a whole bunch of stuff that I probably shouldn't have at an age when I was way to young for that stuff.

I mean, I was reading things like Jurassic Park and Bram Stoker's Dracula before I was even 13!  Sure, I had to look up what some of the words meant, like I had no idea what a CRAY computer was but Jurassic Park sure taught me.

It's held together by packing tape.

Random side note, does anyone else think that the one of the best scenes in the book ,when Tim kills the raptor with an egg, should have been in the movie?  Cause I sure do.  It would have been so much better!!!  A lot of things would have made that movie so much better, but I digress.

My mom, who did a lot of that bedside reading, was my biggest enabler.

Some of my first books were hand me downs that belonged to my mother when she was a child.  Nancy Drew and the Bobsy Twins were early favorites.  Then she stumbled across the America Girl Series.  I became obsessed with those books, reading them multiple times a day. 

One of my favorite baby sitters was the Germantown Community Library.  My mom used to drop my brother and I off there and leave us...for hours.  To some people, this would seem like bad parenting but to me, it was like a dream.  I would leave with stacks of books.  The librarian, of course, would ask if I was really going to read them all.  My mom's response was always "Yes, and we will probably be back later this week to get more".  Those librarians always looked at her like she was crazy.  My mom is a little nuts (she did marry my father after all), but not crazy.

I used to get stacks of books for Christmas.  One of my favorites was a book about a middle aged man with a mustache, who had a Siamese cat, lived in a converted apple silo, was a newspaper writer, and he solved crimes. All of this in a small town 400 miles north of everywhere!  Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who Wasn't There.  

One of my favorite book series.
At one point, I had the entire series.  All 29 Cat Who books for my brain to enjoy.  Then one day, I loaned them, and a bevy of other literary favorites, to my grandmother, who lived in a retirement home.  The books got stolen, and I was out several hundred dollars in paperbacks.  

To say this upset me is an understatement.  I was crushed.  I would even go so far as to say heartbroken.  My babies were gone.  To this day I will not loan out books to anyone, except Mandi.  

Which brings me to my best friend.  Mandi and I have know each other since the last month of our fourth grade year.  Among the multitudes of things we have in common, our love of books is one of them.  We both shopped heavily from the scholastic reading program at our school.  We borrowed each others books the way some girls borrowed each others clothes!   I have been sincerely blessed to have such an amazing bibliophile for a best friend.  She's turned me on to some amazing author's over the past twenty years, and I am sure she will continue to do so for the next twenty.

Yes, cheesy, but still a good read.
One day I stopped my Mandi's place and she pretty much shoved this book series in my hands, told me that I must read them, and then let me leave.  What she didn't tell me was that I would spend the next three days secluded in my room doing nothing but reading the first two books.  I do believe I slept in there somewhere...maybe.

I know, The Twilight Saga has it's haters, but to me, Stephenie Meyer seemed to capture the emotion that most teenage girls get when they find that first love.  They really do think it is the end all be all of their existence. And please, do keep in mind that all teenagers, whether male or female, are hormonal driven sociopaths!

See,  I don't ever understand the sincere hate that books like Twilight and Harry Potter sometimes get from right wing conservative parenting groups.  For me, anything that gets a child or young adult to want to pick up a book and read is a good thing.  Look at Nathaniel Hawthorne's literary classic A Scarlett Letter.

A great book!
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a great book that was a cautionary tale about how actions can often have severe consequences.  This same book, once deemed too racy to be allowed in libraries, is now standard reading in the majority of American high schools. 

In high school, I met a boy on the bus named Andrew.  Andrew was what people expected of a nerd.  He had the glasses, the white button up shirts, and he wore socks with his Velcro sandals.  And he had excellent taste in books.  He introduced to me to one of my favorite authors.

Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince Series

Melanie Rawn's Dragon Star Series

Melanie Rawn's Exiles Series.
These are some of my favorite books.  They feature strong female characters as both heroes and villains.  The worlds that Melanie creates are some of the most colorful and well fleshed out that I have ever read.  She was killing off her main characters well before George RR Martin ever published A Game of Thrones.  They have some of the best cover art pretty much ever, done by the fantastic Michael Whelan.  I love them so much that I have several that are held together solely by packing tape.

Actually, I have several books that are held together by packing tape...or duct tape.  Mostly packing tape though.  Because it's clear and you can see through it.

See, a book that is well loved is, in many ways, as important as your best friend.  Because it doesn't have feelings it isn't going to judge you and it will never make you feel like you are worse for having known it.  It might make you cry, it might make you laugh, and it might even make you mad.  But, that favorite will always, always make you smile.

If that's not a reason to love books, I don't know what is.

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