I am, and have always been, a bookworm. Back in the days of more unfettered discretionary income, I loved nothing more than browsing the shelves at the bookstore, and I vastly preferred to spend said discretionary income at B&N instead of on, say, clothes, shoes or handbags. (What's wrong with me? Books instead of shoes? What kind of female am I? I know, I know, I'm a big word nerd, what can I say?)
Once I stopped working to be home with the kiddo, there was no more such thing as "unfettered discretionary income" so I dug out my sadly neglected library card and became a library junkie once more. I got my first library card when I was in kindergarten, which was a banner day in my childhood. I'm such a bookworm that I actually made a deal with our elementary school librarian to allow me to check out MORE than the maximum number of books allowed to students per 2 week period; I'd fill my backpack with as many books as it could hold and devour them in short order, always returning them on time - they didn't have a chance to become overdue when I was through with them and on to the next pile of books.
As a kid, I read through entire sections of the library, semi-systematically working my way through the Dewey Decimal System. The 900s were my favorite through elementary and middle school. I adored reading biographies of anyone and everyone. There was this series in our elementary school library of biographies of famous Americans, and inside the front and back cover were these illustrations of various milestones in the featured person's life, in chronological order. I'd memorize those pages and then mark my progress as I reached each part of the book that matched one of those illustrations. It never bothered me to know what was coming before I got there - I've always been a fan of spoilers, I guess! They never really spoil the experience for me. The 300s were good, too, as were the 700s.
In my later years, I've stuck mainly to fiction. I read a lot of chick lit, historical fiction, mystery and suspense, and whatever one might consider Stephen King these days - not quite horror anymore, is it? (I may've mentioned this before, but in case I haven't: No book has ever scared me more than Stephen King's It. I read it the year it came out, borrowed in hardcover from a friend, and was convinced for weeks afterward that I'd hear voices coming up out of the sink in my bathroom, which was at the very back of the house. So, as a teenage girl, I gladly gave up the use of my very own bathroom in favor of the heavier traveled bathroom in the front of the house that was shared by both of my sisters or my parents' master bath. Eventually I convinced myself it was safe to go back into my own bathroom alone, but even to this day, I wouldn't be surprised to hear something sinister burbling up through those back pipes...) I do read some nonfiction, too, if a subject or title catches my eye. I generally check out fewer books now than I did as a child, reading an average of just four to six in a two week period. Something about having a kid in the house seems to eat up many of the hours I once spent buried in a book...
I also developed a bit of an obsession with reading reference books as a kid. From the dictionary to the encyclopedias, I was endlessly fascinated with learning new things. (This has likely contributed to my sometimes awe-inspiring ability to answer trivia game questions, not to mention going on Jeopardy. Of course, having an insanely sharp long-term memory helps in this regard as well.) This obsession hasn't waned in my older age, either. When I was studying for my Jeopardy appearance, I gleefully purchased the latest edition of the World Almanac, and I've been known to drive Hubby crazy by reading the atlas during long car trips. As it turns out, he isn't nearly as excited as I am to learn the highest elevation of a particular state or that state's motto or largest lake... Most recently, I've been driving him nuts with our newly acquired Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America. I've had to give up keeping it on my nightstand for bedtime reading for fear of being kicked out to the guest room. Humph.
I love to discover new authors. Well, not new as in brand new, but new to me. My most recent discovery is Kristin Hannah. I came across one of her books on the new release shelf, checked it out and read it in a matter of a few hours. I felt that thrill I always do when I turned to the page listing other works by the same author and realized she's written several other books. I've been bingeing on her books for over a month now, and have worked my way through her catalog. She's not quite "chick lit" but isn't heavy reading either. I think I've cried at least once reading every one of her books. She's like Danielle Steel used to be back in the 80s (um, that is meant as a compliment - I used to love Danielle Steel back before her plots became entirely predictable and the characters were always the same). I've also recently discovered Jodi Picoult (I know, she's written a zillion books, but somehow I never read her until this past fall) and I've been catching up on the backlog of other authors I've read in the past, like Tami Hoag, Jonathan Kellerman and Catherine Coulter as well.
Once I "discover" a new-to-me author, I stay with them, making a point of reading their latest book as soon as it comes out. Well, as soon as it comes out and my turn comes up on the library hold request list - it took me over two months before my number was up for Jennifer Weiner's Certain Girls. I fear I will be old and gray before I get my turn with Jeff Alexander's new book, A TV Guide to Life. It's times like these, when I'm impatiently checking the library's website several times a day to check the status of my place on the holds list as it much-too-slowly creeps towards #1, that I long for the days of unfettered discretionary income... I can just see it now, though: "Sorry, kiddo, there won't be any college for you. You see, Mommy is a book junkie and spent what was supposed to go into your 529 plan on books........" I am planning to return to the world of Working Outside the Home in the fall when the kiddo starts kindergarten (unless Ed McMahon drops by with an oversized check full of zeroes, and I hear he's been having some financial issues of his own lately...), so perhaps then I'll feel more comfortable with spending money on new books instead of spending patience at the library waiting for a hold to come in for me.
Speaking of the kiddo, she is completely turning into Bookworm, the Next Generation. Shortly after her fifth birthday last month, we went to the public library, where she marched up to the librarian and requested her very own card. She'd been counting down for over a year now, asking me each time we visited the library if she could get her own card yet, so she knew that as soon as she was five, she could have her own card. Now she does, in a green, leather pouch that she carried around for days (I also have the keytag version of her card on my keychain, just in case that card ever gets lost amidst the stuff in her room), and she's already checked out several books and even placed her first hold request (for a Disney Princess story collection, of course). I couldn't be more proud! Hubby and I are both thrilled that she has already developed a fierce passion for books, even if she's at the beginning stages of actually reading on her own yet.
So, tell me - what are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors? I'm always looking for tips and suggestions! Please leave a comment and share!