According to my parents, I cracked the code of the written word when I was just two years old. I have not slowed down since. I was reading Roald Dahl in kindergarten. My teacher then didn’t believe me and had me read aloud to her to prove I was really reading…at which point I got put in the first grade reading class. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid. When my mom went shopping at the mall, I would ask to be left at the bookstore, and I’d just sit and read a book in the back, carefully not cracking the spine, until she came to get me. If I hadn’t finished, and I liked it, I’d ask her to buy it on the way out.
By sixth grade, I was already reading juvenile “romance” novels, the sort with the heroine who has two boyfriends, a good guy and a “bad” guy, and oh my gosh who can I choose?!? That didn’t last long. I was sneaking in and “borrowing” my mother’s V.C. Andrews books in junior high, as well as reading my dad’s science fiction. I bought Eon by Greg Bear in 7th or 8th grade, I don’t remember which. That was probably my first really truly “this is grown up stuff” reading material. When I was 13, I got bored on vacation and picked up To Sail Beyond the Sunset at a gift shop, and I was fully into adult reading material. That book purchase is memorable to me because it was the first Heinlein I ever read, the last book Heinlein ever wrote before dying, and I loved it so much I was constantly making my poor (probably embarrassed!) parents listen to me read the funny bits.
There’s not much I won’t read. There are things that I won’t necessarily pick up of my own volition (most popular women’s fiction comes under this heading), but if somebody told me to or asked me to, I would. In fact, if I found it in a waiting room or bathroom or someplace else and I didn’t already have a book of my own in my hands, I’d pick it up and read it. I read a few post-WWIII books that way, because I’d find them in my in-laws’ bathroom.
Leave me in front of words, or even in the general vicinity, and I’ll read them. I read all the signs that are posted on the wall, most of the magazines in the rack, every fine print warning. I read the ingredients, I read the safety warnings on the cans of air freshener and toilet cleaner in the bathrooms, I read all the words scrolling at the bottom of the news screen. I read all your pages and subpages. If I subscribe to a feed, I read every post. It’s compulsive. It’s like an addiction. A new book can keep me up all night, or sitting in a chair all day while my kids whine about lunch and dinner. All your text are belong to my eyes.
I don’t have a photographic or encyclopedic memory, although I can often remember the shape of information on a page, like the fact I’m looking for is in the upper right corner of a right-hand page facing a large graph on the left page. Everything I read gets stored in memory, especially non-fiction, research, medical reports, political papers, legislation, etc. However, going after that information is a little more like scrying than like pulling it back out of a reference book. I’ll bring the right facts back out, but I won’t always remember where exactly they came from, or how to cite them. My brain puts all that information into a big pile, and then waits for chemical reactions to take place linking different facts together.
I read myself to sleep at night. I read when I get up in the morning. I read while I’m eating; even when there are people with me, I have words ready to place in front of my eyes just in case the conversation lulls.
I love words. I am a Reader.