This I Believe

Rebecca - Orlando, Florida
Entered on February 5, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Hi, I’m Rebecca, and I’m addicted to reading. My addiction is and has been a lifelong struggle. I’ve tried to quit before using patches, support groups and counseling, but the hold that books have over me is too strong to deny. Though some may see my love of books as a weakness, I believe that being an avid reader adds depth to my everyday life.

It all started before I was born. My mom was addicted to reading, and her addiction spread to me. Nothing changed as I grew up, either. You could say that my Mom was my dealer—constantly providing a steady stream of books into my eager hands. Before I knew how to read, Mom would take me to the public library for story time, and she read to me every night before I went to sleep.

I tried to read every book in the children’s department at the public library. I’d carry home stacks of books every week and immerse myself in worlds that I’d never get to on my own. I was, in a word, insatiable.

What got me hooked was the power of language, I suppose. When Horton heard that Who, I was there too. When Lucy stumbled into Narnia, I searched the closets in my house for a way in myself. When Anne (“with an ‘e’!”) got to Green Gables, I longed for a life on a farm. When Jo March sat up all night writing a gothic novel, I spent an afternoon writing stories that I later read to my little sister. When I read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, I wanted to live in a museum, bathe in a fountain, and eat at an automat. Not only could books help me to travel, they also took me back to a past that will never come again—and I loved every word.

Nothing changed when I grew up, and now that I’m high school English teacher, I continue to devour books—the classics I grew up with and new books too. Loving books makes the world make more sense, and helps me to put things into perspective. When I’m sad or lonely, I remember how George and Lennie suffer in Of Mice and Men. When I recently read Shakespeare: World as Stage by Bill Bryson, I got ideas about what to cover when we begin our Shakespeare unit. To Kill a Mockingbird reminds me that truth and insight often come from the voices of young people and that it’s important to listen carefully.

Everything I read helps me to make connections to everything else I experience—movies, music, my relationships, my job. There’s nothing in life that hasn’t happened already in a book. Finding illumination in literature may be considered a problem by others, but as a proud addict I proclaim, I can quit reading anytime I want to… I just don’t want to!