Part of the problem was that I read really fast. We had our reading speed tested in eighth grade. The program went up to 750 words per minute. I either read that fast or slightly above it because the machine stopped and I was only reading slightly faster than normal. So, in elementary school, I would regularly go through two to three books in a day (partly because most of the books that were in our classrooms were only 200-300 pages). So, my regular teachers generally expected me to finish reading assignments way before anyone else and were unsurprised if I would put down my textbook after a few minutes and pull out Harry Potter or whatever else I had been reading that day. On a side note, most of the later Harry Potter books were read by flashlight in the hours after the midnight release. Those were finished especially fast because I was so excited to know the end, minus time taken to throw the book across the room crying because they killed off Sirius Black. Anyway, my point is, substitute teachers were not so understanding. I cannot tell you how many times I had to read something 10 to 20 times before I was finally allowed to say that I was done. (It never occurred to me that I could just wait until other people were done, I would literally re-read the story over and over). Also, there were a surprising amount of snide comments made about my reading habit. I remember one particularly hated sub laughing at me because I was the last to line up for lunch because I was so caught up in whatever I was reading. Jerk.
None of this in any way hindered my love of books. I continued to read pretty much whatever I could get my hands on. My family no longer leaves books lying around, because I will pick them up and read them in an hour and then know the ending before they do. And not even just novels. I would read my Dad's car magazines, and I read several chapters of a Sociology textbook that I found on our kitchen table one day.
I still read all the time. I have long run out of space on my bookshelf and keep books everywhere. I can still spend hours at the library. Because books just have this amazing power to them. When you read something you are transported to an entirely new creation. It can even be an entirely different world. And yet, if it is well created, it is a place that has a lot of the real world in it. A good story combines all of the magic and imagination and pure creation that we crave to escape this world for awhile with the most powerful emotions and realities to help us face the world when we come back down to it. I will never stop marveling at the power that stories can have. How is it possible that only words can create entire worlds, entire people that we feel as though we know? I can never stop being impressed by that.
I have long wished that I could have that power. I would love to be able to create characters that are real to people and to be able to use words to help people feel and think and make them want to create too. I want to be able to to write real life that still has that element of the fantastical. And I want to write books that are worth facing the wrath of substitute teachers who can't understand a reader when they meet one. I don't know if I will ever be able to do this. But until then, I will be happy to read and marvel at what other's create.
Until next post,