Allison's Book Bag

Proud to be a Bookworm!

Posted on: February 13, 2014

Allison_ReviewerWhen I started featuring news and views on my blog, I started collecting possible articles for reference. Over the past several months, more than one article has been about book lovers. Some have listed reasons to love books; others have focused on the effect of that love. Generally, the articles have set off conflicting feelings within me. Not long ago I wrote about some of those who don’t care so much for books. When I saved the latest article, about the reasons to date a bookworm, I felt the old turmoil arise. To be honest, it’s not a new one. Few of my childhood friends loved books. And those who did preferred romance or horror over the classics. Loving books has always made me feel like a misfit. And yet, I do love books, and I love that I love books, and I love reviewing books. Therefore, the time has come to embrace my love of books. They have made me who I am.

Books have impacted me in some ways that are insignificant in hindsight. For example, I once urged my best friend in eighth grade that we should dress up like each other. Never mind that when Ellen and Annika (Ellen Tibbitts by Beverly Cleary) wore the same outfit, they ended up quarreling with each other and almost ended their friendship. I never even debated whether or not that would happen to me. I just thought the idea of my friend and I styling our hair the same, matching our clothes, and pretending to be sisters was priceless. The inspiration lasted for one day. I believe that might have been the time my friend accidentally burned the side of her face with a curling iron. I don’t believe we were ever able to perfectly match our clothes. And we were already hanging out together every second, so the short-lived experiment didn’t change our lives. But it did give me a terrific memory. As did my decision to dye my hair red like Anne (Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery). If Anne Shirley were real, she would be flabbergasted to know anyone ever wanted to look like her. She felt her carrot-colored hair to be the ugliest thing. But I adored Anne Shirley. Certainly red hair would be more exciting than mousey brown. In contrast to Anne, I actually got lots of compliments for my tinted hair. Dying my hair also inspired me to later try streaks of green, purple, and yellow. (Not at the same time.)

Books have also impacted my life in more substantial ways. For example, I grew up wanting to travel to England. That’s because many of the books I read were set in England. When I finally did take that trip as a high school student, none of my classmates shared my interest. They wanted to eat out at fancy restaurants and shop for clothes. Okay, they were also open to seeing tourist sites such as Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. Jaunts to Paddington Station (Paddington Bear by Michael Bond) and other literary sites, though, were out of the question. Yet I never lost that desire, and thankfully my husband supports it. We delighted in touring the caves in Hannibal, Missouri, made famous by Mark Twain. I’d love to have a home like Laura Ingalls Wilder, with cupboards that I can actually reach. And I gained a new appreciation for my home province after visiting Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved Prince Edward Island and realizing that I’d also grown up with my own “haunted woods” and “lake of shining waters”. Our latest trek took us to the Alcott home in Massachusetts, where we saw the original artwork of Louisa’s artistic sister, whom readers will know as Amy (Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott). I felt in awe to know such literary heritage still existed!

Allison_BooksBooks have also impacted me in life-changing ways. For example, thanks to Margaret (Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? by Judy Blume), I semi-embraced my changing body. As I was reading about her desire to increase her breast size, the guys in my class were teasing any girls who showed development in that area. I hated being noticed in a negative way, but did enjoy a trip to the mall for a preteen bra. Margaret and her friends felt equal eagerness to start their periods. There were days I wished Margaret had better prepared me for the pain that can come with menstrual cycles. Still, she made me aware of how to tell I had started, and to even feel excited that I had started womanhood. Thanks to numerous fictional aspiring writers, I grew up trying to act like a writer. Julia (Room Made of Windows by Eleanor Cameron) propelled my love of dictionaries and word play. I started keeping notebooks because of Harriet (Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh). Jo (Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott) and Emily (Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery) both encouraged me to experiment in various genres, including poetry, which previously I had never attempted.

As I read each new article about book lovers, I realize at times the descriptions could just as easily apply to movie lovers. Or comic book lovers. Or anyone who enjoys stories in any form. But in this post, I’m laying aside my insecurities to embrace my addiction to books. What I know, I learned from books. My idea of the perfect career is any profession that allows me to read them, write them, and share them. My idea of heaven even is any place that is lined with books upon books. Lastly and truly, if you’re looking for the ideal topic of conversation, or for a gift to share with me, look no further than books for young people. They are the way to my heart and soul.

2 Responses to "Proud to be a Bookworm!"

Thanks, Allison, for sharing your love of books in Allison’s Book Bag. Like you I’ve always been a bookworm. My earliest memories of my being one are my reading a small guide to birds during my family’s trip by train from my grandmother’s in southern Ontario to our new home in northern Ontario when I was seven and my enjoying the volumes from the Sugar Creek Gang and The Triplets series that my sister and I received on special occasions while we were in elementary school. That I still love books is shown by my wife’s having a library / study built for me in our basement a few years ago.

Thanks for sharing your childhood memories of being a bookworm. All my life I feel as if I’ve heard of your love of birds and of course books. Now I share both. 🙂

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