I can't remember the first time I picked up a book to read. I've heard many people say that their parents read to them when they were younger...or older siblings or someone. I don't remember that. My family doesn't have the appreciation of books that I do, so it doesn't come from something that they showed me. The love of books came simply and purely from myself.
I don't remember the first book I ever had. It might have been Dr. Seuss books because I have a nice little collection of those. I don't remember them being given to me; I just remember them appearing. The first book I ever remember being given to me, from their hands into mine, was a beginner's book about the Holocaust. I must have been in third or fourth grade and it was a friend who gave it to me for some unknown reason. I think it's because she didn't want it herself.
Needless to say, I read the short little book and became intrigued by the information within its pages. I had learned something about history by then, but nothing was ever written about it like that. And so it began.
After that, I remember going to my elementary's school library and checking out book after book. But my choices were not of the storybook kind like the other kids. I picked out history and horror books. My most vivid memory is of me blazing by The Babysitter Club books (which I would read later on in middle school) and picking up a biography of Sam Houston and then A Ghost in the House by Betty Ren Wright on my way out. I didn't know what to read, I just knew that I wanted to read.
Then came middle school and I found that not everyone liked to read as much as I did. My mother would take me to the thrift store and I'd pick an endless pile of books that she'd buy me without question. My mother may not have understood my love for books, but she didn't seem to have a problem with enabling it. I did get the odd comment from my family, about how much I read and not to read too much. The comments always confused me, but I ignored them. Not reading was not an option.
Again I would drift into genres that were not suited for a pre-teen girl. Danielle Steele was probably not the best introduction to the world of relationships or sex. It should have been Judy Blume instead (which came a bit later as well). Still, I read anything I could get my hands on. My most fond memories are of me sitting on my bed, which sat near a window, and my pile of books in front of me while the breeze from the summer thunderstorm found its way into my room.
High school made me realize that I'd be having teachers who told me what to read. I found that I didn't like this and openly refused to do any of the readings (only to find out later in college that Frankenstein was actually pretty good). The only book I remember reading as assigned and truly loving was Rudolpho Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima. Some books we read and forget, some of them pay us a visit once more (like that one did in my freshman folklore class at the university).
When I was able to buy books that didn't necessarily have to come from thrift stores, I discovered a whole new sense of freedom. I could choose what I wanted to read. I didn't have to wait until someone else decided they no longer wanted a book so that I could read it. It was liberating. I was hooked.
I choose to live a life surrounded by books. They are piled up at home on my bookcases, my floor and desk. They exist in the backseat of my car and in my purse. I have a Kindle as well. The written word never looked as good as it does when I'm drowning in it.