I love books. Libraries and bookstores make me want to veer off course and settle in. Forget camping out in the woods. I would happily roll out my sleeping bag and spend a few days indoors checking out book titles.
I didn’t always have that option, though (Not that I do now. No one’s ever invited me to a sleep over in a library or bookstore.) What I mean is that libraries and bookstores have not always been options. As a kid, I lived in a small town of a couple hundred people. It had one-room school, a church, a community center, and a general store that was also the post office and the gas station. Have you heard the joke about a town so small that someone drove through it, then stopped on the other side to ask where it was? It happened to friends of ours. True story.
Because there weren’t many kids my age, books became my friends. One day, I got my hands on a small black book with fine print. I climbed up a tree on my uncle’s farm and began to read… and couldn’t stop. I was mesmerized. What was the book? Greek mythology. And as an adult, I’ve enjoyed the Percy Jackson series. Not the same but loads of fun.
I saw The Wizard of Oz on TV when I was six or seven and hid behind a chair because the flying monkeys freaked me out. But later on, I loved the books. Yes books, plural. Did you know there are sixteen sequels? I read them all. Four times. I know because by this time we’d moved to a bigger town. One with a library. I’d go twice a week and come home with four or five books. Checking out books meant writing your library card number on a paper stuck in a pocket at the back of the book. My favorites had my number several times in a row: 4222 (Why do I still remember that?). In any case, I was flabbergasted that no one else wanted to read them.
When I got a little older, I decided I really should read the “classics.” Not knowing what the classics were, I wandered around the library and came across Dracula, Frankenstein, andDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Classics of a sort, and I loved them all… although I confess the first half of Dracula was a slog. I liked the second half so much, though, that I went on a streak of reading vampire stories. And yes, as an adult, I read Twilight. But only the first one.
All that to say that I love books. The best stories make me laugh and cry both. They make me think and might even scare me a little. I’m always on the lookout for more. Especially great books for young teens. If you have any to suggest, I’d love to hear.