Your Reading Life

Falling in Love with Reading

You could compare reading to a relationship. All readers know it that this isn’t some casual fling. You’re in it for the long haul. This is a lifelong affair.

It’s there for you at the end of a long day. It can make you laugh and cry.

Sometimes it’s a struggle and you have to work at it. But one thing all readers know it that this isn’t some casual fling.

But where did it start? Like a first kiss, you remember your first experience with reading forever.

And like all first kisses, it’s more complicated than that.

I attribute my love of reading to two very different instances. The first is a memory of my childhood. I’m on my bed with my brother and mom, and she’s reading to us. We are young, maybe five and seven respectively, and rituals are important to our daily routines —and more specifically — important for getting us to shut up and go to bed.

My mom is reading The Hobbit, and I’m envisioning fantastical images of food-hungry hobbits, mystical elves, journeys of good and evil. Of course, the book is a technically considered a children’s book, but I never would have been able to pick it up on my own (keep in mind that “age five” detail), and my love for that story remains vivid as ever, even as the plot itself has faded.

Perhaps I was seeking that thrill of first love, but the following years showed a lull in my reading. At school, I excelled in English, but I found myself coasting through the assigned reading and absorbing none of it. Nothing captivated me the way I remembered being captivated.

That changed in the eighth grade. I finished our spelling units for the semester earlier than expected, so my teacher called me up after class one day and told me that she wanted me to do supplemental work. As you can imagine, this induced silent mental groaning followed by utter despair on my end.

“I want you to go over to the bookshelf and pick out any book you’d like to read, and write a report on it, which can be on any topic you’d like,” she said.

It was the first time in school that someone had given me autonomy to choose my own book. I took this very seriously. I stood in front of the extraordinary ceiling-high shelves for 20 minutes. I touched the different covers and thoughtfully read each book jacket.

Finally, hesitantly, I picked up A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and placed it on my teacher’s desk. She smiled and said, “You picked a good one.”

She was right. I fell absolutely in love with Francie and the Nolan family. I related to her adolescence. I cried for her father—the first time a book caused me to do so. I was excited to go home and read. Once again, it became a ritual in my life.

It was my second instance of falling in love with reading, and though it was long, unwieldy path, the affair was solidified.

Photo Credit: Gemenacom/Shutterstock.com

What is the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

About the Author

RACHEL GOLDBERG is New York-based writer and works in editorial at the start-up company SideTour. She is a feminist and social justice contributor at PolicyMic, occasional dating blogger and has a background in social media writing and producing. As an avid reader, she can always be found buried in a book on the subway. Originally hailing from Chicago, she studied creative writing, gender studies and art history at Indiana University. She also considers herself to be a rather accomplished peanut butter connoisseur. Visit the author on Twitter @rachfoot.

  • Crystal Wall

    I have been hiding under my bed covers with a blanket since I was about 5. I am 41 now. I have had a long love affair with books. When I read I don’t hear anything, I get lost in that moment in time in the book. I escape. I do it often. I would rather read than talk to people. Just give me a book. I always have one in my bag. Some people collect things, I collect books. I cant bear to part with them. Just like relationships books are complex, can be boring and uneventful or they can be passionate and full of charm. I know, I am always in one. A book that is! :-)

    • Chris

      I would do the same thing hiding under my bed covers reading when I was a kid. I also collect books and have one with my always.

    • Reem Selim Fakhry

      I have the same feelings Crystal! I have also been hiding under my covers to read and I still do at 45. I have even been known to read in the closet so I don’t wake up any of the my children when they were babies. I recently purchased a tablet so that I can carry many books with me. I have upwards of 100 books with me always. My love of the print has never left me so even though I have the tablet, you can also find me carrying a physical book as well. I never leave home without both!

      • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

        I’m the same way! I love my iPad and my hardcovers, both! (Reading in the closet? … that cracks me up!)

        • Reem Selim Fakhry

          It does sound funny looking back on it now. I have 5 kids, the oldest is now 20, the youngest are 7 year old twins and if it hadn’t been for that closet I may have lost my mind.