I think I was eight when I found the little red book with an old fashioned girl on the cover, an art style that reminded me of the girl with the umbrella on the salt packages. I’d never seen the book before and it was in one of the corners of a trailer we didn’t use for much.
I decided that I wanted to try and read it to myself. Something I had never before tried to do. I loved books. I had been learning to read. But I had never read anything by myself before.
I took the book with me out into the sunny day outside and went to the little field of tall uncut grass where I liked to hide and make paths to play in. I made myself a nest in the grass where no one could see me and I curled up to try and read the book.
The first few pages were missing, so the first story in the book didn’t make much sense. I read it anyway, and then I read the rest of the stories in the book. I read the entire thing through in one sitting, I think. Everything made sense. I loved reading. It was almost easy by the time I was done, I think.
Later when I told my mom about it, I found out that I had pronounced one of the names wrong in my head. My mind had turned Jerry into Jury.
For a long time, whenever I read that name, especially in that book, it would jury instead of Jerry.
I was so proud of myself, for reading that book. It was my little private corner and secret.
I loved that book and that patch of grass. That was the first book I ever read to myself, and it started my love of reading to myself. A little while I read an unabridged unedited version, I think, of the first Nancy Drew book. It was the longest book I’d attempted to read and I stayed up all night reading it.
It made me proud, that I had read a book that long. It made me confident in my ability to read longer, more complicated books.
I read a lot of the Nancy Drew books. I read some of the Box Car kids books. I read a lot of books. It didn’t take long for me to move onto to books from the YA section. Those were mostly romances. I don’t remember reading a lot from the YA section at my library because their collection was either all romance or all dark, depressing, and violent books.
I moved on quickly to adult novels. I like romances, especially romances that were mixed with other things, like mystery or adventure. Those are the books I remember most from my young day of reading. Those days before I was twelve.
My parents read me Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels when I was nine. Then Jennifer Crusie novels. We read a lot together, and I read a lot on my own. Some of my favorite memories of childhood are about reading, or writing, of being outside. There are fewer good memories, I think, directly involving other kids. At least other real kids. There were a lot of good memories involving fictional kids. I devoured books and I thought of myself as a kind of Matilda without the terrible parents.
My mother tells me every once in a while that I didn’t like learning new things in front of people. Apparently when I was learning to walk I would go into the corner by the couch alone and try to walk on my own. I’ve always enjoyed the parallels of my wanting to learn alone.
Learning to read by myself was one of my favorite moments connected to reading when I was little.