If you know me, you know that I am a somewhat outgoing person. I also enjoy being alone and I do much better in smaller groups than big ones. I think a lot of that has to do with my joy for books and reading. When I am reading a book I am never alone.
I learned how to read later in life than most. When I was in kindergarten I was promoted to first-grade mid-year due to highly developed social skills. I think it had more to do with the teacher and I not seeing eye to eye on a lot of things. Our tables could not go to recess unless everyone was finished with whatever project we were worked on. I cannot help it if I had the advance skills each of my table mates needed in order to finish their projects and even make them better.
By the middle of the year, the first-grade class where I promoted was far above me and the teacher just assumed I would catch up. Site words and rote memorization was just getting started and I had a hard time getting it. So my mom pulled me out, I did first grade again and caught up with no problem. After that school year, my parents got back together and we moved to Texas where I knew no one and everyone talked funny.
I lived in a small town. The city library was a small old house. The books were somewhat organized but the place lacked room. I didn’t know anyone so I read books. I can’t remember many of the first books I read, but when I read I didn’t seem so lonely. By fourth grade, I read at a high school level. Kids books bored me so one say I ventured into the adult section. There I found John Jakes. I read the entire Kent Family Chronicles in a few months. I know these books are not for kids and I read way more sex than I should have, but I lived that story. I escaped. I fell in love with stories. That was also the first time I realized my parents had troubles. So when they argued and things were bad, I read.
Fast forward many years. I spent a lot of time in Barcelona. In Barcelona, the main language is not Spanish, but Catalan. So my Spanish classes were of no help. I spent more time watching from the sidelines than participating in much. Turning to the one thing I knew would not fail me- I found a book, The Stand by Stephen King. I read that 600+ page book twice in one summer. Even though that book shows such a messed up world, those characters gave me a connection when I had none.
Even more recent; I’m listening to Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail. I’ve mentioned that before. I do not want to give any spoilers, but I will say there is a scene in the book that involves putting down a very sick horse. I listened to that on the way to see my mom in the rehab center. I spoke with her earlier in the day so I knew she was not having a good day. Taking care of my mom has been such a mixed bag of emotions. This scene provided much a needed catharsis. I had to pull the car over I cried so hard. But I NEEDED that. It made it easier to deal with my mom.
There is an old song disco song from the early ’80’s, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life. That what books do for me. For me, I become an omniscient observer of every story I read. In my head, I believe that these people do not exist unless I keep reading. Some may think I’m crazy, but if you love books the way I do, I bet you understand. I read because I have to. I have withdraws if I haven’t read in awhile. Reading keeps me going.