I have always been an avid reader of books. I’ve had a love affair with them for as long as I can remember. Its not like I haven’t tried to branch out, to explore the horizon and see what’s out there, because I have. I occasionally flip through magazines, browse online blogs and pages, and I only read the key words in newspapers, until something peaks my interest and jumps off the page. Nevertheless, these are mere flirtations. Books are different they remain my one true love. They deserve to be featured on bookshelves, enjoy long spa days basking under LED lighting, and receive a steady stream of dedicated and loyal fans/readers. My fondest memories from childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood, all revolve around the feeling that a good book evokes. The feel of the pages as my fingers caress its edges, the smell of new paper and ink. When I hold a book, I am never so sure and yet unsure of what the next few hours will bring. The anticipation of a good story of mystery, intrigue, love, comedy, drama that it evokes. I’m sure I’ve found my soulmate- it’s that serious!
It all began with “My Book House” a classic twelve set collection of children’s nursery rhymes, poems, and stories; the look, the feel, the color of those books are still vivid in my mind. The purpose of the collection was to generate a love for reading among children from an early age- and boy did it ever! The collection was meant to follow the reading growth of a child. I found each volume to be a welcomed challenge and a true sign of “Michelle becoming a big girl, doing big girl things.”I suppose being a daddy’s girl had something to do with this love for reading as well. My dad was, and still is, always to be found with some sort of reading material in hand. Spending time in Daddy’s presence required quiet time. Sitting and reading, or coloring, or doing something that sync’d in with my father’s down time after work. This involved his favorite recliner, the morning paper- that he held off reading all day at work- and the TV stuck on the nightly news. Caught up in my own rapidly evolving ‘chemical romance’, I often sat on the couch with my book of the day and modeled him. On the contrary, my mother was never besotted with reading, and all things schoolwork. She was however, a staunch supporter of getting a good education. Reading was a strongly encouraged connection that would take me down the aisle towards a future of learning that would remain with me till death do us part.
My collection of “My Book House” was stored on a bookshelf in my dad’s study that took up the length of an entire wall. It spread vertically from what was a little higher than eye level at age five, to as far as my little eyes could see. Even in my younger years, I unknowingly recognized the sanctity of reading. After each volume, I dutifully and proudly climbed up on the chair to put it back in its proper place. I grew to look forward to the next stage of knowing my collection more intimately. The bookshelf was home to many of the technical binders and reference books for my dad who was an engineer and part-time college lecturer. I was proud to have an entire bottom shelf to myself. Along with my “My Book House” I had a collection of the Children’s Britannica, followed by the more “grown” Encyclopedia Britannica that I was anxious to use when I went to the “real big girl school”- High School.
Aside from the one or two horror stories of teachers from hell and small-scale rebellious acts, High School was never tedious for me; it was more of a social mixer. My early reading habits had widened my vocabulary, my level of analysis, and my reasoning. Learning was interesting, dare I say fun. Nevertheless, lets not digress. My love for reading at this stage was definitely not because of high school classes. Rather, it was still because of the way books made me feel. By age fifteen, bordering, sixteen, books and I were having a full-fledged romance. My best friend Rachelle and I were using school as the base of our book exchange operations. I had graduated from the childhood kisses of “My Book House” and was amorously interacting with a book a day. In the midst of school days, homework and my other extracurricular activities- tennis, track, swimming, piano- I was making time for leisure reading. I was the quintessential teenage girl lost in Mills and Boon’s romance books and Danielle Steele Novels. I was also making some headway in the classics of Jane Eye, Wuthering Heights and Anne of Green Gables, to name a few.
Now the honeymoon is over, and I have settled into a deep and enduring love. Don’t get my wrong, from time to time, I do experience the occasional whirlwind romance, but I always find myself falling in love with books all over again. In the grand scheme of things, my love for books is eternal. Now spend ninety percent of my day theory reading, researching, and technical writing. Yet one of the first things I do at the start of every academic break, is to shut myself away from my social bubble, unplug from the computer and read. I find myself at Barnes and Noble, trying to catch up with contemporary writers, and I leave with no less than four books in hand. Reading settles me and grounds me. I continue to be constantly amazed by the words on a page. Always how they make me feel, how they are arranged, how very smart they can be at times. My love has matured, as I expertly compliment the books I read by adding a personal edge to the author’s characters. One thing remains ever certain; books have always been my first love.