The tea kettle shrieks as I turn off the stovetop. I pour the boiling water into a ceramic mug and add a single teabag. I carefully carry the mug to the table near the couch, where I already have my supplies waiting. I sink comfortably into the plush sofa as I pull my warm blanket closer. I can hardly lift the thick tome I plan to read, a collection of short stories, so I settle for laying it across my lap. The fire isn’t roaring because the fireplace is electric. Instead, a soft familiar tune is playing over the record player.
Reading in front of the “fire” has always been my favorite pastime.
Of course, where I end up reading never really matters because I completely lose track of the outside world within minutes. My father once joked that he could set off a bomb next to me, and I wouldn’t notice. It takes more than one attempt to get my attention while reading, a fact my entire family often reminds me of.
They should be used to it by now, since my mother is the same way. She was the one who read to me growing up, and she gave and loaned me countless books from her collection to cultivate my love of reading.
I can still recall her handing me books with red, green, blue or black covers, with a soft smile on her face. My favorites were the worn and well-used copies that she gave me. That’s how I knew she loved that book too. If she wanted me to keep the book, she would write a note on the front cover, something simple and sweet. Sometimes, she’d tell me why she loved the book. Other times, she would tell me I reminded her of a character.
I can also recall sitting cross-legged on the floor of her bedroom, going through her collection to figure out what to keep and what to donate to the local library. Often, I would leave the room with three or four books for myself.
Reading has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I love it because it gives me the ability to escape from my daily life. While I love my life, everyone needs an escape sometimes. Within the pages of a book, I can explore a magical world, fight monsters, sail on the seven seas or solve a mystery. Reading a fantastic story makes me feel like I can do anything.
Although I originally fell in love with reading fiction or fantasy, nonfiction found a place in my life as well. I love learning about topics that interest me like art history, mythology, theology, world history and forensic science; reading nonfiction books allows me to do so. Knowing more about these topics also makes me feel more intelligent and boosts my confidence.
Reading has been an instrumental part of my family and life. I can’t imagine not seeing familiar notes from my mother in some of my favorite novels or not having books scattered throughout the house. It has truly defined the way I look at the world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.