I have a confession to make. I suffer from bibliophilia. I’ve suffered with this condition for over 30 years. When my second grade class made a field trip to the school library, we were issued our own library cards. Imagine my delight when I realized I was allowed to take a book home. The images my mind created transported me to different worlds, so unlike mine. I come from a Mexican family, and although both of my parents loved knowledge, they were unable to finish their education. Actually, neither got past third grade. Raised in the 1930’s, in a poor farming community in Mexico, their parents needed them to work, so school wasn’t a priority. My mother learned how to read in her 40’s, and I’d often see her with the Bible in her hands. My father, on the other hand, would read whatever he could get his hands on.
I’ve always made good use of my library card, both in school and out. Growing up, I walked to the neighborhood library where the kid section was small, and the adult section was closely guarded. I read every book Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary ever published. Several times I tried to sneak a book from the adult section but I was usually caught.
We were only allowed to take out two books at a time, but every time I went to the library, I wanted more. I’d go home and read for hours, hanging upside down on the couch. My mother worried that I didn’t play outside enough, but I loved reading about kids who lived in two story houses and first romances. I’d devour each book and run back for more.
When I was ten, the entire fifth grade had a competition: read 5 books in 30 days and win a roller skating party. I read those 5 books in a week! My teacher would quiz me about the content of each book, not quite believing that I’d read every word. But I passed each test. After all, I was reading for pleasure. The roller skate party was a bonus.
In high school, I discovered historical romance and Gothic novels, leaving young adult novels behind. Victoria Holt, Johanna Lindsey, and Julie Garwood became a favorite authors. I was fortunate to find their books after they had published several so I never had to wait for a new book to be published. I just went down the line, reading every copy on the shelf. Once I found inter-library loans, my reading choices were endless. If I couldn’t find a title in my own library, I’d just ask the librarian to get it for me. I read mysteries and thrillers, love stories and suspense, detective stories…nothing was off-limits. I made a habit of stopping by both the school and town libraries after school each week. I’ve never been able to check out only one book. I always leave with 5 or more.
My passion for reading didn’t change in college. In addition to reading for my classes (as an English major, I had plenty to read), I continued to read for fun, mostly mindless romances and some mysteries. I read Stephen King, Micheal Crichton, and John Saul. I became well-acquainted with Half-Priced Books and the book bin at local thrift shops. While I continued to use the library, I bought paperbacks every time I went to Walmart. Never having cataloged my library, I’d often buy a book only to find out I already owned it.
Today, I’m an avid reader of dystopioan YA fiction. I’ve read The Hunger Games trilogy and Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series. I love Neal Shusterman, Veronica Roth, and Allie Condie among others. Young adult fiction is smart, often raising questions about morality and society. Sometimes, I’ll read a Minette Walters’ mystery or Jane Haddam novel, but right now, I’m mostly consuming YA fiction.
Having suffered from bibliophilia my entire life, I can’t say that I’d ever want a cure. What about you? What kind of books do you like? What authors do you seek out? I’m always looking for a good read, so comment below.