I've loved reading my entire life. My mom says that the only things that could keep me quiet were books and The Wizard of Oz. Some of my favorite memories revolve around curling up in the elementary school library and reading books by the window for what seemed like hours, but it couldn't have been that long. I would've gotten in trouble. :) Instead of bringing toys to school, I smuggled my latest book, and read it under my desk when I should've been paying attention to what the teacher was saying. But really, my book was so much better.
I read Little House in the Big Woods in first grade, and from then on, I never really stopped reading. Little Women in third grade, the rest of the Little House Books, Anne of Green Gables, Number the Stars, Marguerite Henry's horse novels (which my friend Anne brought me as a gift after my CF diagnosis. We were horse crazy when we were 11 and had gone to horse day camp the summer before.). I was perfectly happy to read Misty of Chincoteague while I did breathing treatments.
The Giver, The Diary of Anne Frank...those were what we read in eight grade during our Holocaust unit, and we read Night, too. I didn't like diagramming sentences, but I loved analyzing words and characters and form. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe opened me up to the universe of C.S. Lewis.
In high school I continued reading just about everything. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Les Miserables, Beowulf, Of Mice and Men, Shakespeare, Animal Farm....the books continued rolling out in front of me. Most of my allowance money went to buying books. I read Memoirs of a Geisha when I was fourteen, down in my grandmother's basement, on the sly, because she didn't think it was appropriate for me to read.
I didn't discover Jane until after high school--sadly, we didn't have to read her. But once I did, I was hooked. I began reading and underlining. I collected all the Oxford University Press editions. I read Mansfield Park for the first time in the hospital, writing notes in the margins with my unibal pen. In fact, every hospitalization involved brining lots of books. I discussed The Poisonwood Bible with one of my doctors, once. Nurses would come in and ask me if Jane Eyre was really good hospital reading. To me it was.
Whenever I go on vacation, I bring tons of books. I've read Possession at Disney World by the Yacht Club pool, as well as A Dance of Dragons. I read Agnes Gray during tech week for Ragtime, and House Like a Lotus during Hello, Dolly!
Some books, like the Outlander series, I've read so many times I've had to replace certain copies. The same thing happened with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Books are never-ending sources of entertainment and enjoyment. I've read every single book I own at least twice. Books correspond to my mood, the seasons, and certain places. Every book has a memory in it, not just of the characters and plot, but of the first time I met them.
For me, there really is nothing better than a new book, or a new copy of a beloved one. ( I have at least five copies of Pride and Prejudice.)
I love to give books to kids, hoping that one book will spark the magic of reading in them. Few things are better than sharing beloved books with my friends, and comparing notes on them.
If you aren't a reader, I encourage you to keep looking for that book that will inspire you to read. Even if it isn't my beloved Jane. :)