During my therapy session last night, we talked in part about my reading and what it means to me. I don't know how it can affects others, at least for the most part.
I know at what age I got truly interested in reading. I was 12 years old, living in San Fernando Valley in Southern California. I was in 6th grade. My sister had just read this book and said I should read it. It was Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. It was also a revelation.
At this point in my young life, I was happy and miserable at the same time. I was super tall for my age (and then stopped growing for several years) so the start of middle school wasn't as bad as it could have been. School life really wasn't the issue, home was. Both my brothers were in and out, they were drug addicts and gods only knew when/where/what they were working (though then it was mostly construction), my sister starting high school, so world of difference between us there, Jean (aka mother) was working in South Central LA as a teacher on emergency credentials. We were Mormon, which meant church on Sundays, baby sitting and pretending my Dad was "working" somewhere in Arizona while we barely surviving. Don't get me wrong, the church helped us like you could not believe in those years. It was hard because we could never talk about what was really going on and pretend everything was normal, ok, nothing to worry about. Not to mention my mother was not exactly the best at parenting.
We had 3 dogs, 2 females and 1 male, that we breed. This helped keep us afloat, because we would get $400+ per puppy (Bichons). I hated the boy dog, Fred, though. He was too fucking smart and a total ass. We had several cats, which Jean named after her fave actor at the time, Sylvester Stallone - so we had Rocky, Rambo and I think Sylvester. Rocky wasn't quite right in the head (different story, different post)
Ok, so onto why I got so into reading. Back then, and for many years, it was an escape. Not just any escape either, it was safe. Safe to be close to the characters, to live through them, experience what they did and feel what they did. To learn - so many things. My life really wasn't that bad and could have been so much worse. I was lucky to be living during the times that women have value and to know it's ok to fight for that value. To know that they are good people, bad people, and people in between. It was ok to be happy, angry, fight for what you believed in, to protect others and yourself. It was ok to be yourself.
It gave me peace. It helped me figure out who I wanted to be, and not just succumb to same old shit everyone else did.
As I grew up and older, I didn't take those qualities as much because I didn't need them as much. Reading then challenged me, to think more and deeper. It gave me pleasure and stress relief. It gave me reasons to ignore assholes and to not take some things personally. It gave me perspective.
There is nothing quite like reading a novel that ramped you up so much, broke your heart along the way and then ended so satisifying you just wanted to bask for a little while in the thoughts of it. (Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner series comes to mind)
And as I became an adult, working and paying bills, reading became more and less at the same time. I didn't always have the resources to buy books, which meant they became that much more valuable in my mind set. I do wish I was more aware of the library systems back then!! I also didn't have as much time to read. So I would read in chunks of time, mainly on the weekends or later in the evenings. Then came marriage and with marriage you totally forget about everything and everyone else for a time :^D
But reading, it's certainly changed me, helped me grow and just BE as a person.
How I read books now, is much different from how I started out. Now, it's pleasure and me time. Sure, there are sometimes it's a stress relief from work, or a brief glimpse of a different reality (because that violence isn't as close to home as the news on TV) but for the most part, it's because I enjoy the story. Some stories are amazing and I love getting that rush off a good plot/plots. I love getting pulled into something, some amazing world or characters that I wish I knew in real life or even the humor behind the banter going on. Now, I am entering the book, whereas before the good was a gateway to someplace else.
I am not using the books to escape from an unhappy life, not anymore. I am reading a good story. Some books and characters I get more attached to, which means their authors are the ones I keep watch out for more (and ok, it's like 100 authors at this point...). I just love reading and the joy it brings me.
Why do you read?