What Made Me the Reader I am Today

Posted January 25, 2015 by Pixie in Imaginative Discussions, Pixie / 13 Comments


Not too long ago, a friend of mine shared a post on her blog in a discussion asking her followers to share their experiences about what it was that really made them become the readers they are today. Because as you know, many of us in this community are heavy readers—heavier than the ‘average’ reader one might meet on the streets that say they read “some” and she shared her own story as well. It was Lili from Lili’s Reflections and you can find the post, as well as the numerous comments and other stories in response to hers, at this link.

After a lot of thought, I wanted to share mine, too. And I thank her for the permission to use the topic to post here because my story runs fairly deep. It was hard thinking of sharing it in just a comment, and I didn’t want to informally tweet it out in a response to her share either. There weren’t enough characters for that, to be honest. Obviously I’ve already gone over my character limit trying to get started. You’ll have to excuse me. My anxiety does spike when I get to telling my story, so I’ll try not to sound like a jumbled mess as I go along.

Did I do this for any kind of attention or sympathy? Certainly not. And I’m not ashamed to share my experiences because I never know when it can become a helping hand to another. My whole point of this post is that I want to thank books. Books saved my life. Books, or rather a particular book, came to me at period of my life when I needed it most and I not only became the reader I am today, but that was the moment I decided I never wanted to do anything else other than write.

According to family, I’d always enjoyed books. I started reading when I was four. I went to private schools for a little while when I was starting out in school. I was “gifted.” I read highly advanced for my age. But when troubling times occur, I gave up a lot of the things I enjoyed. A divorce when I was six. My parents, both alcoholic. My father thrown in jail when I was eight for unpaid DUI’s and child support. Mother getting a new boyfriend and deciding on a whim to move us three hours from the home I’d grown up in. Then her and the boyfriend split. And it was just me and her for a bit again.

I was a miserable child. And I’d grown up way too fast. With mom’s drinking problem (she was either working or drinking), I was mostly alone.

Then mom met a new guy. From the first day, something seemed really off about him and I kept getting a weird vibe. She made us move in with him within a month of dating him. I was going on ten years old. I don’t want to go into details. I’m not going into details. So I’ll just say it: The guy turned out to be the worst of the worst. About two weeks after moving in, he took his opportunity and began molesting me. The more time passed, the worse it became. I was molested by this monster nearly every day for about two and a half years, when I finally got free.

Did I tell my mother? Of course I told her. A few times. She didn’t believe me because she was too drunk. Or she’d ask him and he’d lie (duh, he’s going to lie). I felt betrayed. I was angry and hurt. And scared to even tell anyone else because I thought they would just treat me the same way she had. (sidenote: Never be scared. If you’re being hurt in any way, and you tell one person and they won’t listen… tell someone else!).

It broke me. At the age of twelve, over two years after dealing with this, I became suicidal. I thought there’d be no other way out.

My mom, she was a nurse (retired now), and would keep a lot of pills around the house. And there came a day when I had everything worked completely out. I would grab this bottle of pills and go in this old building just outside our house where we kept stuff stored up. There were a few hours in the afternoon when it was just me. He was gone. She was gone. I could be alone. I could do it. So I made my way out there with the pills, and a bottle of water. To this day, I don’t know if I’d really have done it or if I’d ended up being scared out of it, but I was contemplating it either way. And it was scary.

I tripped over a stupid box when I made my way into the building and was trying to sit down. Turns out the box was labeled “books.” Curiosity got the best of me, causing me to forget my current dark thoughts and I began digging around. I was instantly drawn to the book on top of the pile though, and started reading, right there. Right there in the dimly lit, cramped little space. The Shining by Stephen King. I’ll never forget that first book I read, opening my eyes. Causing me to escape my reality. I teared up and realized what I’d been missing the past few years. An interest I once loved so much, that I’d just tossed away. I wanted to continue getting lost in worlds. I wanted to create my own worlds to get lost in. To read all the words. To share words. It all came crashing on me pretty hard in those moments. Even now, thinking about it, telling you all, I can recall everything of those terrible days before–and then that one day where it felt like a light hit me long enough to smack me square in the face bringing me back to my senses, and I feel how much of a difference books made in my life. For my life.

I remember tossing those pills, so angry, so furious, because I’d almost destroyed myself. And I was holding books in my hand again. How could I leave books behind? These worlds and characters? There were still so many more I had to meet too! The monster that was part of my own reality could be slayed. I just had to FIGHT BACK. And I did. I was done. I was done running scared from him every fucking day.

Two weeks later, he was gone. My life wasn’t anywhere near normal. It never has been normal. But I had books again. That’s what mattered.

Lili and I talked for some time about the not-so-unusual links between many of us in the community as readers. How often it is we meet and learn that we did not have the best of times growing up and used books as a means of escapism. Of course we’re not saying all readers came from bad experiences–I’ve seen stories of casual “I just have always been surrounded by books” or “my parents were devoted readers also.” We’re just saying there has been many stories of what made others become readers that showed how impacting books are in many different ways for all of us. I just really enjoyed her post, her own strength to share, the many others at her blog leaving their comments, and I hope you all will continue to tell us: What made you the reader you are now? What got you reading? Feel free to share!

(And I still vow to hug Stephen King one day.)



13 responses to “What Made Me the Reader I am Today

  1. I don’t know how to feel after reading this. There’s this huge amount of respect that just came from reading this but that isn’t even half of it. You said that you aren’t ashamed at all and that kind of bravery just makes me want to give you a huge clap. I can’t say that reading saved me but I can say that blogging did. Reading is something that I get picked on for. “Oh, you’re asian, that’s why you read.” “You don’t have any friends, that’s why you read.” “You’ll never be popular if you keep your face in those books.” “No wonder she’s so ugly, she’s always got her face in those books.”

    And while it kind of hurt, I’ve never been ashamed of it. People are stupid and they don’t realize how much something can save a person. I’m so glad that you found reading like I found blogging. This is wonderful
    Nova @ Out of Time recently posted…Book Review: Eve and AdamMy Profile

    • Thank you for your support, kindness, and hugs. It was a hard post to write. And harder to return comments, I think. I can’t just say “oh it’s okay” you know? Because it’s not. It never was okay, but on a personal level, I’m doing okay now that years have passed. It never goes away, but it gets easier.

      I’m glad you found blogging and an escape through it. Humans in general can be a cruel species, falling back on stereotypes when they misunderstand anything, and I’m sorry that you deal with any of that. Good for you that you haven’t let any of it affect your love of reading and blogging. It only makes you that much more of a beautiful person in my eyes. 🙂

      Thanks again for your comments. 🙂

  2. Jenny

    Thank you for sharing. That can’t have been easy. I’m so glad you stumbled on that box of books that day and when you said it was a Stephan King book I got all choked up. Keep reading and blogging. *hugs*

  3. This is such a personal post and I’m so glad you decided to share. Books have the unique ability to let you forget about reality for a period of time and I’m glad they got you through life. I’m also glad that you still enjoy reading and writing.

    I was one of those people that I was always reading. I always had a book checked out from the library and would use my free time in school to read. That is transformed into my reading today where I read constantly and am never found not reading at least one book. Reading has became a part of my life. It allows me to forget about the stress of college and know so many amazing characters. I can’t remember the first book that really got me into reading, but I really want to say Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My third grade teacher read the book to us, but I did not read the series myself until I was in middle school. I enjoyed the Fudge Series and the Magic Tree House series in elementary. I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder in middle school. I read her whole series as well as majority of the spin off series. I also read The Love Comes Softly Series, which is also about the pioneer spirit. I think what got me into reading is a lot of great teachers encouraging me to read. I have a lazy eye and wore a patch over my eye until third grade. Since I couldn’t see the greatest I was slow to learn how to read. I received title one help at school and once I learned how to read I discovered a whole new world. I remember loving aurthur, berstein bears, dr. suess, and if you give a mouse a cookie books in elementary. I mostly would read anything I could get my hands on. My parents are not readers, but we always had books at our disposal and I’m so thankful for that.
    Rachael @ Rachael Turns Pages recently posted…Sunday Post # 3: Homework is endlessMy Profile

    • Thank you for your support and kindness. <3

      Also, I truly thank you for sharing your own story. Showed how full of determination and strength you were to read no matter the obstacles and I greatly admire that.

    • Books so often become the escape for many readers, so I understand. Even today, I love the escapism feel they give me–especially when I’m feeling overly stressed or just needing to step away from the real world for a bit.

      Thank you very much for your kindness and support, and for reading my post. I’m sorry it took me a bit longer than expected to get around to replying back. =)

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope this doesn’t sound weird, but in this became in a way a beautiful story of strength and finding peace in something. Books definitely are wonderful escape mechanisms for children. I used them a lot myself that way, but for different reasons.
    Erin @ Paperbackstash recently posted…Sunday Salon: It’s Been AwhileMy Profile


    Anyway, I talked to you about this a lot after my first post went up and it’s amazing how you can pinpoint the exact moment and author that changed your life. I am so happy to know you today <3
    Lili recently posted…Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel HartmanMy Profile

  6. This is a fantastic post. I am sorry for all you had to endure, and all that other people have had to endure. It’s wonderful as a fellow reader to hear that books have healed, books have saved lives, books have become companions. It’s almost like Matilda- books took her away and it made her world brighter. I had a fairly good childhood, but books were a form of escape as I got older and they allowed me to find connections, especially online.

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Sunday Post (10): I’m Late, I’m Late!!My Profile

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