When I was in 2nd grade, my elementary school had a reading contest. The rules were simple: for each book you read, you would get your name entered one time to win a razor scooter. Since these were the height of luxury circa 2001, I read 200 books so my name would be entered 200 times. And I won that beautiful scooter.
Obvious confession: I was a childhood bookworm. My bookshelf overflowed with dog-eared copies of Nancy Drew , fairytale retellings by Gail Carson Levine, an extensive collection of Archie comics, and other childhood staples. On trips to the library, I checked out stacks of books that towered above my head, and the librarians would laugh and make jokes about how I couldn’t possibly read all of them. I would laugh at their doubt and return the next week for a fresh haul of books. And often, I would put a book in my lunch box so I could finish it while enjoying a Lunchable, much to the annoyance of my non-lit-loving friends.
Because I spent so many years with my nose stuck in novels, I learned a few things, and these lessons happened to be extremely helpful now that I’m an (almost) Adult Bookworm.
Never Go Anywhere Without a Book in Your Purse
As an introverted elementary schooler with little desire to play dodgeball (seriously, why does everyone love this game?), I quickly learned that a book was the key to enjoying recess, so I always kept several in my Beauty and the Beast backpack. Nowadays, I never go anywhere without a book in my purse — or the Kindle App on my phone — because you never know when you’ll be stuck in an elevator, bored on the bus, or you just want to pull a Belle and read while walking through town.
You'll Never Regret Staying up all Night to Finish an Amazing Book
In elementary school I used to spend hours huddled by my nightlight, propped up on my elbows, trying to finish the last 50 pages of a book (before my parents could discover what I was up to). This is how I learned that book hangovers are the best hangovers, and the only cure is MORE BOOKS. Recently, I put this to the test, and stayed up all night to finish Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl . Conclusion: Books > Sleep
Always Read Your Friends’ Favorite Books
If a book is important to your friend, read it. There were a million times growing up when I would read awesome books, but couldn’t fangirl over them, because NO ONE ELSE WOULD READ THEM. And I really, really wanted to talk about how great Flipped was. Not only will your friends appreciate being able to talk about the book, but you’ll also learn a lot about a person by the type of books they enjoy. Note: This can also apply to people you date, but of course, I didn’t learn that until after grade school, because all the boys were playing dodgeball and I was in the corner in love with Bryce Loski.
You Don’t Have to be Obsessed With Every Classic
Great Expectations is really hard to get through. Let’s just start there. In terms of assigned class reading, it sometimes felt as if I had to like something just because it was a classic, but I finally realized that it’s okay to have a differing opinion from the majority. Keep your Charles Dickens — I’ll take Jane Austen, thanks.
Let People Love What They Love
…On the other hand, some people do love Charles Dickens — everyone’s taste differs. In middle school, everyone was obsessed with Twilight, so as a dutiful bookworm I read the entire series. Though they weren’t my cup of tea (or Butterbeer, as I’m more of a Harry Potter series girl), a ton of my friends who never usually read books were suddenly swept up in a world of vampires and sparkles. For a while, I gave them a hard time, but eventually I realized that 1) they didn’t care and were going to read it anyway, and 2) if something has a positive effect on a person, it’s best to let them enjoy it in peace. After all, you don’t have to love the same books that other people love. And you don’t have to read them if you really don’t want to. You’re Never Too Old to Appreciate Children’s Books
The books of my childhood will always be important and relevant, and I will never grow out of them. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Only example needed: Harry Potter.
You’ll Always Be About 85 Percent Book Character at Heart
I literally don’t know what my personality would be if I had never cracked open a book, because at this point I’ve become a conglomerate of characters, and I wouldn’t have it any other way — Alice in Wonderland taught me to be curious and explore. Hermione Granger taught me that smart girls can save the day. And Lucy Pevensie taught me to always believe in a little bit of magic.
Some People Won’t Get it, But Those Who Do Are Special
As a childhood bookworm, I spent a lot of time by myself, burning through book after book. The stories made me feel like I wasn't alone, and made me feel like I could live a hundred different lives. Now that I’m older, I've found friends who share that love. Not everyone understands the world of a childhood bookworm, but those who do — especially those who experienced it themselves — are extraordinary. Images: David D/flickr; Giphy (7)