A Bibliophile’s Ongoing Addiction by Darlene Forsman
I’ve noticed over the years my tastes may have changed but one thing remains the same: I must always have a book in my hand! My “addiction” began innocently enough with the Dick & Jane series when I started to read in first grade. Then I progressed to The Wizard of Oz series, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Dana Girls (same author as Frank Dixon et al), Trixie Belden series, and I was officially hooked. I loved the juvenile Alfred Hitchcock series; by sixth grade I had cleaned out two elementary school libraries and had finished the entire juvenile sections of the town library (my parents would not sign off on a complete exposure to adult literature back then). I could read Old English, Middle English and contemporary English before completing 5th grade.
My appetite for books could not be suppressed. One time I was so desperate I went to a neighboring town’s librarian and connived Wifey by Judy Blume (a “hot” book back then) out of her by saying it was for my mother (it wasn’t). I went home with my friend’s mother. She checked our books before we left and discovered my “treasure”. I had to go in and return it to the librarian saying my mother didn’t need it right then. Talk about disappointments!
Yes, I did read Judy Blume (in my 30s, and no, it wasn’t as “hot” as I recalled, but still…). As for changing tastes, I started reading, in fourth grade, Ellery Queen, then sharpened my deduction skills with the hardcore Sherlock Holmes series (don’t read the Hounds of the Baskervilles in an empty, 100-year-old house at midnight!).
By the end of sixth grade I was reading at sophomore college-level. So when my sister recommended romance author Barbara Cartland’s novels, believe me I leaped at the chance. While I’d read Shakespeare, it wasn’t clear to me about the word “romance”. Sure, I played with Ken and Barbie back in the day. Yes, they kissed, but not much else happened.
So you can imagine my surprise when I read my first Barbara Cartland book and there was more to kissing (try handholding, cooing, and a bunch of “Oh my’s”)! I was launched into a new world: Women were coy, brazen, bold, half-dressed, scantily dressed (nude by the time I started high school), and in other countries with city names I could not pronounce.
When I started digging into romances in 7th grade, my Mom could no longer hold me back! She perused what I was reading and said “Alright, just no Harlequins!” I guess the women she talked to about books said these were too sophisticated for me; I didn’t tell her I’d been reading them for a year thanks to several girls in my “book club”. I learned a lot about relationships (of course all the wrong things when it’s set in the middle ages!).
I read during class hours, lunch, breaks, on the bus, at the bus stops, and I always carried around two or three books (sometimes I ran up to six) as I never knew when I’d finish and need a new one. Things haven’t changed all that much. As an adult, I still carry a book in my purse. There are tons of them lying around my house. And I keep one or two in my car (for others of course!). Some people like to devour sweets or wine, but for me, it’s always been a book addiction. And if you ever meet me in the streets, I LOVE to talk about books.
Darlene has spent several years in the King County area teaching English classes, all portions of the GRE, and Adult Basic Education (ABE). She’s done phone soliciting, banking, data entry work, and currently is a book reviewer at nightowlsreview.com. She’s happily married to a great guy and has a therapy dog: Pookie, who keeps them busy. She’s owned enough books to rival the Library of Alexandria in her lifetime!
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