My life as a reader may seem to be a fairly modest one, but only as it compares to other’s who either “work as writers” or have more contented children. My humble opinion is that the things I have read have lent me a fairly glorious existence. My mom and dad both took the task of reading to my sisters and I seriously. I remember reading Goodnight Moon, Mickey in the Night Kitchen and every manner of Dr. Suess book. Shel Silverstein’s collections were also something we read, along with those two good ladies Amelia Bedelia and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. We first read them together and then, later I would read them for myself when anything on the bookshelf would suffice, so long as I was reading. Most notably I read the Bible (NIV) cover to cover.
When books became something I could do for myself (behold the power of that little red card), I would take ten and twenty titles out at a time. Sometimes I managed to read age-appropriate material and sometimes I would sneak in something a bit mature for my tender years. So lurking under Babysitter’s Club, Anne of Green Gables, A Song in the Silence would be a copy of The Vampire Lestat. I loved them all. Now that I have developed equal senses of humor and shame I realize I loved not wisely but too well.
In high school I had more to prove as my circle began to care and ask “What have you read?” Being unwilling to mention Rice or worse I had to read something else and quickly. My life was changed for the nerdier when I tore my way through every novel in the Dune series. I don’t mean just the Frank Herbert novels either. I read the prequels, the original series and every book that followed until I was forced to be satisfied with what became of the real Kwisatz Haderach. The Post-Dune self could only handle fantasy and science fiction series for some time. I needed characters that wouldn’t abandon me for three or four books. The Kushiel’s Series, The Sword of Truth series, The Sun Sword series and more that I have forgotten, which fell into the category of fictional fodder, only written well enough to help me bide time till I found something I actually liked.
I read things outside the realms of series as was necessary. I read the must-read classics: Alice in Wonderland, Ishmael (this was a classic to my group at any rate), To Kill a Mockingbird. All the titles you read or you just don’t care about fiction and culture. Books like The Poisonwood Bible, the Soul of Rumi, Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old like a Skank, The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit, and every book ever written by Neil Gaimen and/or Terry Pratchett were all books that I read to fulfill a mood (and loved).
Lately (the last 3 years) I have not done as much reading. When I have spare time I indulge in that great self-exultation called writing. I occasionally reread something or get into something Janet Evanovich has pumped out or read something from The Cat Who series. A recent favorite is Angry Conversations with God, which is a hilarious account of a woman who goes to a marriage counselor for her relationship with God, completely brilliant. The large part of my reading now is my own work, my children’s choices, the Bible and nutrition labels. I assure myself that all of life moves in phases and that I will someday return to my escapist hermit tendencies and maybe by then there will be some new science fiction worth reading (but I doubt it).