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Adventures of a Bookworm

How fiction shaped and affected the world view of this therapist...including some recommendations of some favorites

A favorite reading spot, my front porch TDP, 2017

I was recently asked…..”have I ever “gotten lost” in a book…..and what did it feel like?”

I had to think about that for a minute.  The number of times I’ve gotten lost is REALLY high.  The number of times I have gotten lost in a book I mean.

Due to my excessive love of reading this question can only be described as ironic for me. Have I EVER gotten lost in a book?

For me, a better question would be “how many Saturdays have you completely gotten lost in a book and escaped into the lives of others….only to then find yourself looking for the next book to completely get absorbed into?”

Or maybe “how many times do you look to see how long a book is when deciding which book to read next, so that you won’t read it too quickly and find yourself needing to find another one”

Getting lost in a book is one of my favorite things.  I look forward to blocks of time where I can read and learn by watching the movie I create in my mind.

My reading adventure begins

I became a reader pretty early in life. I have an older sister, who read to me and to our younger brother quite a bit.

As older sisters can be, she was (well is……) kind of bossy and always wanted to hold the book. She also didn’t always want to read to me at the exact moment in which I wanted her to read to me.

I had had enough. I wanted to read for myself….to hold the book, and to be able to get absorbed into books the way that I saw her do.

My grandmother was a reading assistant at an elementary school. She had lots of beginner reader books around her house, and I’m pretty sure had given some to my parents.

I remember working hard to sound out words that I had watched my sister and mom  (and grandma) read to me. I was entering school, and came from a home where we did not utilize day care or pre-school. My mom worked part-time then and we had an in home babysitter.  I’m pretty social so I was really looking forward to spending my days with kids my age. I remember thinking that since I was starting school, it was time I learn to read.

Once I was able to sound out words effectively and begin to learn to read, I have lots of early memories of reading books. My parents are both teachers, so we spent summers with both parents pretty available to us.  Each week, my mom led my siblings and me on our bikes to the local library to check out books for the summer reading program.

The Adventures Continue

Chapter books helped me explore the world. I can remember reading  a series that now, as a parent, I find odd that a child found interesting. I read book in a series which included each book entitled with a single first name.  The books would be the story of, for instance, Amy, who had fallen upon hard times, gotten involved with alcohol, drugs, or even prostitution, who then received help and “found her way” by the end of the story. I read several books in the series, and looking back I am guessing they were probably a series of Christian based books intended to help people recognize that people can by helped by finding religion. I found it fascinating that people could experience things so difficult, and figure out how to work their way through it and come out on the other side.  It was probably my first experiece of really seeing how people can have trials and tribulations and overcome them.

As an avid reader herself, my mother never censored my reading.

(Naples in January, 2018 tdp)

Continuing to learn and seek to understand....

As I became absorbed into books, I learned about the world.

Much of my knowledge of historical events comes from historical fiction books I have read.

I learned about concentration camps from the books I would read about Auschwitz.  In addition, I read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and can conjure up memories of the visualizations I had of their hiding spot. It is almost as if I have a memory of hiding in the kitchen cabinet in order not to be found.

In high school, I had the opportunity to take a class that integrated history with literature written during that time period. I can remember reading Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser, and learning about industrialization told through the experiences of a young girl becoming a woman who worked at a factory and her experiences related to this. I was really interested in her trials and struggles as she maneuvered living in a city and working.

Roll of thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor taught me about racism in the south.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee helped me begin to have an understanding of  racial struggles as well.

Ordinary People by Judith Guest taught me about teen suicide, mental health issues, and family dysfunction in a way that really felt real. I have a mental image of sitting at their family dinner table, which was made even more real to me once I watched the movie by the same title. Specifically, I remember learning that there are different ways for someone who is suicidal to slit their wrists, and that one way meant someone really wanted to kill themself, where the other way is more of a cry for help.  That information has stayed with me in my field of work.

As a senior in high school, I read a book entitled Dibs: In Search of Self by Virginia Axline. Sometimes I am asked why I went into the field of counseling and mental health. I can remember reading that book and thinking that this is what I want to do. I proceeded to obtain my degree in psychology, then a master’s in counseling, and credit the book for introducing me to a world I hadn’t even known existed prior to reading it.

One winter I wanted a really long book to read, so I tackled Gone with the Wind. Miss Scarlett and I spent a long time together that winter. As I’m thinking of books that have been important to me, several of them revolve around The Civil War. Another book I read from that time period is Across 5 Aprils, by Irene Hunt. As a resident of Indiana, the Indiana setting and the family’s divided loyalties are fascinating to me

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb revolves around the events leading up to and following the Columbine school shootings. I read that book and another entitled Columbine by Dave Cullen, which is a non-fiction book about the same event.  These books helped me see that traumatic event from the perspective of the shooters and the people who experienced it, and helped me understand the horrific event and what led up to it in a way that was different than the perspective I was able to see by watching television broadcasts.

My long answer to the short question of whether or not I have ever gotten completely absorbed into a book is that yes, I have absolutely gotten absorbed into books.

I have expanded my world through reading in ways I can only dream about doing in real life. I have been transported in time to World War II where food was rationed and the hunger was described so specifically that I  could feel it.

For me, immersing myself into a story of someone experiencing a period of time is how I seek to understand what that was like.

I have grown through reading, and wouldn’t be the person I am today without books.

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