I was five when I taught myself how to read.
The book was called The Teeny Tiny Woman, and I spent hours sitting on my bed, little legs dangling, while I sounded out the words. I don't remember exactly what came before I opened that book, or what came right after, but I remember vividly thinking "I can read."
And read I did.
I was seven when my mom bought me my very first Baby-Sitters Club book. I read it in one day and made her take me straight back to the bookstore to buy more. And for the next few years, wherever I was, there was always a Baby-Sitters Club book close by.
I read The Truth About Stacey in the coatroom at school. I read The Ghost at Dawn's House sitting on a bench on the playground while everyone else played dodge-ball. I read Super Special #5: California Girls on a family vacation to the Jersey Shore. I read Kristy and the Snobs at my best friend's 10th birthday sleepover party. I read Super Special #2: Baby Sitters' Summer Vacation during my third summer at sleep-away camp, and I read Super Special 11: The Baby Sitters Remember during the spring I was getting ready for my bat mitzvah.
I was twelve when I entered the wonderful world of Judy Blume. I lived in Miami Beach with Sally J. Freedman, I got my period for the first time and figured out that I could raise one eyebrow with Margaret, I was best friends with Stephanie and Rachel, and I spent some summers with Vic and Caitlin long before I was probably old enough to be a part of their story.
While I was reading my way through Judy Blume, I took a spin through the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Supermysteries, but was always more interested in Fred and Nancy's romance than whatever mystery the foursome was out to solve.
During the beginning of high school I read some Jane Austen, had an ephemeral obsession with the Bronte sisters, and started the Harry Potter books as a testament to my eclectic tastes.
I was sixteen when I read my first romance novel. I picked up a Nora Roberts book that my mom had left on the coffee table, read the entire thing in a single sitting, scoured her bookshelves for more, and began a love affair that has lasted for more than a decade. These are the books that bind me to the women in my family. They are the stories that comforted me on my first night of college, offered me an escape from a very sad summer, gave me sanity when I felt like everything was in chaos, and made my brand new house feel like home.
The story of my life is in the pages of the books that live on the shelves in the corner of my living room. The books that have been my loyal friends and constant companions as I have grown and changed and become who I am. And I may not know exactly what the future has in store for me, and where I will go from here. But I do know one thing for sure.
There will be a book in my hand as I figure it out.
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