I have an addiction. This problem has plagued me since high school. I remember one teacher who set me apart from other students because not only did it impact my life, it negatively affected the lives of my fellow pupils. Truth be told, I probably never outgrew it because it has developed into something more. I spend a lot of money on it. I give some of what I buy away, but typically it just sits there until I consume it. I used to share, but not so much anymore.
During my freshman year in high school, I read so much and so frequently that my English teacher assigned me a book a report a week rather than trying to force me to sit through the banal lessons of an antiquated text book. He made a deal with me—the cumulative grade I received for my book reports would be the grade I received for the course.
But here’s the kicker…if I missed one week’s book report…I failed the class. This wasn’t even a challenge. I had so many book reports finished and stored in my locker, I could have remained a student in the 9th grade for another three years and would still have reports stored away that I could turn in.
And this teacher isn’t the only one that noticed the problem. A couple of decades later, I returned to the high school where I graduated, working as a substitute teacher. My Problems in Democracy teacher shared with some of his students that I used to read so much I would hide the book behind my textbook. They would take my books, and I would pull another one out of my bag.
This was a serious addiction. They finally just let me read what I wanted because I had already read the textbooks. When I did it that way, I didn’t have to open my locker and let stupid textbooks take up space in my bag. The textbooks I hid my fantasy and science-fiction and thriller books behind? I just grabbed them off the counters when I came into class. I don’t think I ever knew my locker combination my senior year.
I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, starting with the prequel The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. That started a long love affair with the magical and otherworldly realms of the fantasy genre. I read Here Abide Monsters by Andre Norton, and that got me started down the road on science fiction. I got lost among the islands of Earthsea when I read the famed trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin.
There seems to be this desire for a sense of wonder in me. For lack of a better word…an addiction. My own personal library consists of over two thousand titles of both fiction and non-fiction now. If you look carefully, you can even find some of my Norton anthologies from my college days while working on my degree in…yep, you guessed it…English.