One summer when I was a small kid our library held a reading program. In an effort to encourage wee readers they created a “treasure map” and for each book read you received a sticker. If you filled in the entire map you earned a gift certificate for McDonalds. Nothing like artery clogging food to inspire you to feed your mind.
After the first week, already anticipating the tang of salty fries, I completed the ten books required to finish the map. If I had to guess the list included a few Judy Blume’s, some Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and a few of those choose your own adventure books that were popular at the time. The librarian looked at me and stated ( in a very loud voice for a library) that she did not believe I had read all of the books. She didn’t call me a liar, but she implied strongly that I might be the kind of kid to stretch the truth if some nuggets were on the line.
A few moments later my mom marched me back and had me summarize each book for the librarian as proof. The librarian begrudgingly handed over the gift certificate. She did it again the next week, and the one after, and the one after that until the summer ended. The library never repeated the reading program. It most likely was for the best, all that fast food was making my heart race.
I’ve never been able to be without something to read. I read the shampoo bottle in the shower. I always have a book with me and stacks of “to be read” piled around the house. I compulsively go through the book reviews on the weekend and make lists of even more books I want to read. When I stroll into a bookstore, telling myself it is just to look, I get a slight shake. I’m a junkie.
The few times I’ve been stranded without a book I’ve turned to disturbing lengths to find something, anything, to read. On one occasion I read (cover to cover) a professional journal on the heating and cooling industry. I have no shame. No desire to recover.
From the time I was old enough to know that someone (a very lucky someone) got to write books, I knew that is what I wanted. When I’m not writing, I’m reading. If I promise to share my fries- do you promise to read all of our books?