Memories of a reading life, in roughly chronological order:
Reading Oz books aloud to my dad while he did the dishes.
Reading The Westing Game with my mom and keeping a notebook of all the clues so we could try to solve the mystery alongside the characters.
Walking home from middle school reading a brand-new Ann Rinaldi book my mom brought to me during lunch (from a stack of five or so, recommended by the public librarian). The mylar was fresh and the book pure and unsoiled – reading a new library book is one of my favorite things. This is also the first time I can remember discovering a new-to-me author and being able to take a deep dive into her backlist.
The smell of The Amber Spyglass, which my mom gave me as an early gift after a particularly bad day at school (freshman year was tough). This is still one of my favorite physical books.
Listening to countless audiobooks during our annual summer vacation road trips: scary stories, mysteries, historical fiction, stuff my siblings and I chose ourselves from the shelves of the library and stuff my parents were into as well. I read widely now thanks in large part to this practice.
The sound of the cassette player overheating on these road trips and the narrator speaking in a chipmunk voice for a few seconds as a result.
Re-reading The Giver in my high school library during lunch, sneaking bites of a cookie I bought from the vending machine.
Discovering that The Giver had two sequels. This is something that is easy to learn now thanks to the internet, but finding them just sitting on the shelf at the library with no prior knowledge felt magical to me.
Buying a whole bag of books at the end of the public library’s book sale, when they offered a special deal to clear out as many books as possible. This is how I accumulated Jean Auel on my dad’s recommendation and almost all of Anne Perry’s works on my mom’s.
Checking out dozens of romance novels from the library just to read the dirty parts, and being disappointed when I read an author who did fade to black instead.
Buying whole trilogies of adult fantasy from Half Price Books at once, based solely on how promising the covers were. This is how I discovered Elizabeth Haydon, James Clemens, Jennifer Fallon, and many others.
Visiting the Barnes and Noble near the University of Texas campus on a high school trip and realizing that when I went away to college, I’d be able to do this whenever I wanted. I bought my first Juliet Marillier book and my first Sharon Shinn book from that store.
Staying up until 2 am reading the last Harry Potter book, trying to slow myself down so it could last forever.
Listening to audiobooks my dad sent me while I was in college at the University of North Carolina. Giving books “just because” is one of my favorite expressions of love.
Reading Jane Eyre for the third time as an undergrad English major and finally getting it; this is my favorite classic, and “Reader, I married him” will always be my favorite line.
Finishing up The Book Thief on a sunny day on the Texas Capitol grounds during grad school, before it was tainted by my knowledge of exactly what goes on there. It’s still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I’ll never again be able to feel the same way I felt during that day. The memory will have to be enough.
Listening to the Amelia Peabody books on the bus to grad school and falling in love with them all over again.
The smell of the exhibit hall during the Texas Library Association annual conference and how it just felt like possibility.
Listening to Jim Dale read Harry Potter in the mornings while I got ready for work during my first year as a professional librarian.
What are some of your strongest reading memories?