As a child, I never felt as though I quite fit in. It's not that I didn't have friends, I did. In fact, I was extremely outgoing, loud, and precocious with a wild imagination (shocking, I know). I think that my personality was a direct result of growing up with two brothers who spent equal amounts of time abusing and ignoring me. When I wasn't teased or punched in the gut, I was invisible to the boys. As a result, I retreated into the world of books. For me, they made sense in a way that people never did, and opened up a world where I always felt at home. I devoured everything from The Babysitters Club to Anne of Green Gables to Peter Pan to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. And, just for fun, I would write book reports about them. When assigned one for class, I'd go back to my trusty three-ring binder and choose from any number of reports and just submit it to my teacher.
It's amazing to me how so many of the books I've read have stuck with me throughout the years. I seek out my familiar favorites when I'm feeling nostalgic and looking for a connection to my past. I always read Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy when I'm reeling from a breakup. The first time I ever read it, I had such an aversion to Angel Clare that I was barely able to finish the book. I found him flawed, selfish and hypocritical. He is far from perfect and the second he learns about his wife's painful past, he deserts her. In the end he realizes his mistake, but it's too late. In the book, as in life, there are no do-overs. Despising him makes it easier to deal with whatever male drama happens to be going on in my life.
I read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls when I'm missing my nanny. She bought me the book when I was in middle school and I read it in one night while laying next to her in bed. I still have that copy and the spine is broken and the pages are stained with old tears. I revisit it when I'm feeling nostalgic for her and that time in my life when she was everything to me. She's been gone for more than ten years and every time I open up the book I feel close to her once again.
I don't know why it is that I am so profoundly effected by books. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally stayed up all night reading a great book. I do know that a truly great book - whether it ends with happiness or sadness - can stay with me for days. So much of my life's memories are wrapped around the books I've read and the way that they've shaped me. So yes, I'm absolutely a book nerd, and damn proud of it.
Do you have any books that have had a lasting impact on you?