“Mom.” No response. “Mom,” a little louder this time. Still no response. “Mooooommmm,” yelled at the top of my lungs.
My mom slowly lifted her nose from her book, completely unaware I had been calling to her for what seemed like eternity.
This was always the case with my mom. She’d take a book; sit in her bed; and disappear. We’d call, yell and eventually scream to get her attention. She was lost in the story, oblivious to our cries.
As a kid I thought she was just ignoring us. I had no idea it was possible to to get so engrossed in what you were reading that the whole world melted away. When she’d say “Kimmy, I didn’t hear you.” I’d roll my eyes and vow I’d never do such a thing to my children.
Around the same time, I developed my own love of books. Stories let me escape my tumultuous childhood. I devoured Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. I day dreamed about their stories and made them my own. While my parent’s marriage became more contentious and my home life less stable, I retreated further into my books.
As a teenager I advanced to more mature content, specifically Danielle Steele. I read every single book Steele published in the ‘90s. Many nights I could be found, snuggled comfortably in my bed, reading a book. I was a voracious reader. I’d pick a book in the morning and finish it by sundown. Reading wasn’t just an escape, it was something I excelled out. I read fast and comprehended things well above my age. This fact became a source of pride for me. I beamed when my mom would brag “Kimberly is such a great reader. She’s so fast.”
Then as a twenty-something I turned my sights to reading every Oprah Book Club book. I remember printing a list of the Oprah’s picks, and starting at the top of the list until I worked all the way down. I’d buy a book. Read it. And then go by the next on the list. I read about 70 percent of the books before I lost interest and moved on.
As an adult, I went to college and immediately found my home in the journalism department. The art of crafting the perfect newspaper story — stringing facts into a compelling story — became my obsession. When I asked more seasoned journalists how I could improve my writing they all told me the same thing: write more and read anything you can get your hands on. I readily followed their advice and did both.
“Mom.” No response. “Mom,” a little louder this time. Still no response. “Mooooommmm,” yelled at the top of her lungs. “Kimberly, answer her,” Mike says. “Shelby has said your name ten times. Answer her. Please.” “Really? I had no idea,” I say apologetically. “I didn’t hear her.”
Holy shit. How did that happen? I’m now my mom. I’m the one enraptured by words — lost in a story — deaf to my children.
I collect books like other people collect shoes or snow globes. I always have to have just one more. I stack them next to my bed and make grand plans to spend all day, every day, reading. I’ve never started a book that I didn’t finish. It’s a rule of mine. That doesn’t mean I’ve loved every book that’s crossed my path. On the contrary, I’m a bit of a literary sob — so says my husband — I’m not all that into chick lit; I despise poorly vampire tales; and The Hunger Games series was one I couldn’t get into (believe me, I tried ... multiple times).
I’m an equal opportunity reader. Though I absolutely adore the feel of a book in my hands — I’m old-school like that — but in just the last year, I’ve succumb to technology and have learned to enjoy book on my iPad as well in audio form. A book is a book to me. And no matter how it’s dropped in my lap, I’m happy to have it.
As I type, I have three audio books on my iPhone; upwards to 15 eBooks on my iPad; and a hard cover book in my backpack. I never leave home without a book (or two or three or 15.) If I’m in the car, waiting on kids, I read. If I’m on a plane, I read. If I’m sitting along in a hotel room, I read. And every time I crack open a book I’m as thrilled as I was as a 9-year-old girl with her worn copy of Trixie Belden.