A Legacy Handed Down
As far back as I can remember, I have always been surrounded by books. My immersion into reading can be traced back to my paternal grandfather, handed down to my father, and then finally, given to me. I cannot look back on memories of my grandfather or father without books and the love of reading being one of the most important factors. It was a rare occurrence to see either of these gentlemen without a book in their hands or one by their sides. When my grandfather passed away, he left not only a storage shed with over a thousand books and magazines as his legacy but also a rich love of reading to his son and granddaughter.
A Love Fostered and Almost Broken
Needless to say, my primary years were surrounded by books. By the time my early teen years came, I was an avid reader with a passion for all types of literature. I would pour through the boxes of books and magazines my grandfather had left. My father and I would read books together, discussing and dissecting various parts of the stories; these were some of the best times of my life.
By the time I was in eighth grade, I had my own small library in my room. Even though money was tight, my father had signed me up for a book club that allowed me to pick and purchase books on my own. One of the first books that I can remember purchasing was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I fell in love with the story of Meg, Charles Wallace, Calvin, and the twins. As I sit here writing, I can still remember how it felt curled up under the covers and being transported with Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which to the various planets along their journey.
Unfortunately, my passion for reading would soon take a hard hit as I began my high school years. These were the years of the required classics. All of a sudden I was being forced to read books that I had not picked for myself. I rebelled during the beginning of those years and would “skim” the required reading enough to hopefully be able answer any questions that may come my way. Most of my classmates were of the same mind-set, with of course, a few exceptions. Those few that did the required reading were inundated with questions about the passages by those of us who were trying to “squeak” by. I do remember, though, at one point during a class discussion, thinking to myself, “This book doesn’t really sound too bad.” Unfortunately, by time that realization hit, we were almost through the novel.
Two separate incidents luckily brought me full-circle back into the realm of literature. The first was the author Judy Blume. During my junior year, the school started what at that time was a pilot program aimed at independent reading. We were required to read everyday, after lunch, for thirty minutes. By this time, I had already fallen off the “book wagon”, and hadn’t read any books for pleasure since my middle school years. As luck would have it, my eldest sister had just read the book Forever… by Judy Blume and offered it to me for independent reading. It was such an intriguing book, one in which a teenage girl could relate. It became my path back to reading.
With my love for reading finally restored, it was a small, gray-haired lady with a larger- than-life personality that cemented my love for books. As I was browsing in the library towards the end of my junior year, I was startled by a hand touching my shoulder. Our school librarian was standing behind me and asked me to stop in her office when I had finished. During our meeting, she asked if I would be interested in helping out in the library. I didn’t know what to say, I was so excited! Not only would I be able to be in a place I felt the most comfortable, I would be able to continue on a journey that had started many, many years ago….with my grandfather.