Once you learn to read you will be forever free - Frederick Douglass

Sunday, November 7, 2010

From Day One

Obsessive Reading Begins at An Early Age
It's not only writers - like me - who devour the written word and depend on books and literature above all other art forms to accompany them on the mundane and mysterious voyage called life. No matter how unique I believe myself to be, I know that I am joined by thousands who also read books with passion, urgency and, sometimes, desperation.  You know exactly what I mean;  as a kid it was the back of cereal boxes, and the impossibility of toilet or bathtub without at least an ink-leaking comic book, or sticky-paged magazine.  As a grown-up, it's staying up too late to get your recommended eight hours of sleep because an author's voice has you in its grip, captive.  Does this condition of being an obsessive reader get conveyed through DNA?  All I  know is that my father gobbled up several newspapers during the course of a demanding week, and my mother, who had to be at work for a federal agency at seven a.m., regularly depleted her health using her night owl hours to dwell fascinated in the fictional worlds she entered in books. With parents such as these, my brother, sister and I were card carrying library users by kindergarten, thus commencing a lifelong reading obsession, expressed in singular ways, but passed down, nonetheless, like my mother's hazel eyes and my father's mahogany skin.  Of course, any sociologist, or just plain common sense, will tell you that it's not nature, it's nurture, the home environment where reading is a habit, and books respected.  Reading begets reading, and one book leads to another.  Isn't that an enduring truth to be grateful for?

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