“Do you really want to check this out?” asked the bookmobile driver.
I looked at the students behind me and nodded. “Yes,” I hissed. “Hurry up.”
The library was about 13 miles away from our house. I could usually gauge how many books it would take to get me through a long weekend, but not always. And there were those rare trips to the library when I just couldn’t find enough of what I wanted–or I’d already read most of the books that interested me at least once.
This situation was usually just an annoyance. But when I would get sick it could quickly become a crisis. I had asthma. When I would get sick, sometimes I would spend a week on my back. What was I supposed to do if I didn’t have any new books in the house, not read anything for a few days?
A house full of bookworms
Luckily, my sister read a lot too. During one particularly bad illness, I reached the low point: I crept into my sister’s room and grabbed a couple of her Sweet Valley Twins books. Do you remember those books? Essentially, they were all the same. Two blond sisters would have a problem. Lessons would be learned. Privileged, good-looking teens would hurt each other’s feelings.
Each book was about 150 pages, I think, roughly the size of a Louis L’amour paperback. I burned through most of the Sweet Valley High series in a couple of weeks. It wasn’t that I enjoyed them…but I enjoyed them enough to keep reading them.
But it didn’t stop there. In the next year, I read that entire series, all of The Babysitter’s Club books, and graduated to Sweet Valley High.
I told myself it was just my love of reading. Boys read. The end. That was certainly a factor, but I got sucked into these endless serials. Just like I do with TV.
Any arc will do
Someone recently asked me if I watched the television program Bones.
“No!” I said, a lot more forcefully than I meant to. This person became defensive and started telling about this and that and how good the show was if I just gave it a chance.
How could I explain that the problem was that, if I gave it a chance, I’d probably watch the entire series, whether it was good or not?
Love of stories
That’s when I believe I first understood why I read all those books. I love stories. I don’t care how long or short the story arc is, but when I start it, I tend to be uneasy until I’ve experienced the resolution. Sappy, idiotic, sadistic, full of terrorists or blond twins or sexy female spies or a crew of babysitters, the actors and plots are never as important to me as the simple process of watching a story unfold or helping it unfold by turning the pages of a book.
But tell that to the bookmobile driver
She held my book up and squinted at the cover. It was a special double issue of Sweet Valley High, in which the twins went to–I think it was France.
Anyways, everyone behind me saw it, but I took it anyways.
I had to find out what happened.
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