Julia's Bookshelf

I am a reader. I love books. I want to share this love.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Books = Safety Zone

I love books. (This should be obvious by now.) I am not the most critical of readers. Like Stephen King, I am a fan of books (and movies), not a critic. Books are a transporting device, one that was built early in my life. Reading was a safe place in a sometimes scary world. Books have always been more comfort than education. How did I become a reader? Not exactly sure. What is the nature v. nurture argument? Some people are born readers and some are not. Parents can have some influence, but not totally. My next oldest sister and I grew up together and she is not a reader and I most emphatically am. (Hard to shop for her sometimes because I'll find a book that I think she would love, but never buy it for her because I know she probably won't read it.) Both my parents were/are readers. They divorced when I was five. My dad got remarried very shortly thereafter and my mom got remarried 10 years later. My stepfather is a reader, my stepmother is not a reader. My next middle oldest is a reader. Voracious. She reads like a starving person presented with the first food they have seen in days. I thought I was a fast reader, but she is lightning quick. You have to send her boxes of books to keep her well stocked in books, not just one or two. I was born pre-disposed to read, but then had influential readers to model while growing up. As the youngest I looked up to all my sisters (I have 3 half sisters, all older) for something. I looked up to my middle oldest sister the most for reading. I wanted to copy everything she did and how she did it. I remember clearly watching her take an apple or a pear from the kitchen with a paper towel, grab the book she was reading and recline on the carpeted floor in a sunny spot. She would lay on one side with one leg stretched out and the other bent to hold her position. She would hold her book open with one hand (that was holding her upper half up) and eat the apple or pear with the other while reading. If I knew how to draw or paint, that is exactly how I would capture her, in that position. She looked happy and absorbed and nothing could move her from that spot until she was ready to move. I copied her point for point. Fruit? Check. Paper towel? Check. Book? Check. Sunny spot on carpet? Check. Commence reading! In our father's house, this was a very safe place to be. If I was reading, nobody bothered me and I was safe from whatever darkness might be lurking. Reading in that house somehow put a bubble around me, a place where I could take off my armor and relax a bit. And within that bubble I could go places and see things and experience a different life. I could never be faulted for reading. Reading looked good, not like just watching tv. I was safe. And I could read and I loved reading and that was even better. But the safety zone was always temporary. A precious hour or two maybe because day inevitably turned to night and that meant putting armor back on to join the very immediate world of my father's house again for dinner. Thank god for books.


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