I’m a voracious reader. I always have been. I can gobble a good book almost as quickly as I can devour a bag of Lindt Chocolate Truffles. In fact, both have a home on my bedside table. For me, the genre really doesn’t matter. It’s what simmers between the covers: the flavor of the words.
Growing up, my older sister and I shared a bedroom. It was a converted garage, located down a step and off the laundry room, away from the main part of the house. With a small, attached bathroom of our own, and distance from everyone else in the household, we developed our own bedtime ritual.
Our beds stood against the far wall, head-to-head, with maybe twelve inches of distance between. At the foot of my bed was the wall with a doorway to our “accommodations.” Next to the doorway was our very own heater, a tall grate-type thing that we were responsible for lighting. The pilot light was at the bottom, through a metal door, and a sliding tab on the top adjusted the heat temperature. A living beast, it would awake with a roar, then moan and groan all through the winter nights, puffing out the smell of burning dust. If it wasn’t fed properly with our little wooden matches, the morning would begin with hurried steps over ice cold, linoleum-covered concrete floors. Though I was closest to the heater, I was younger than my sister by four years; I’d snuggle deep into my blankets and pretend to sleep, forcing Sarah to take care of it.
Between our beds, hung a pink sheet curtain on a wooden rod. At the foot of my sister’s bed, where the garage door would have been, stood a wall lined the whole way across with windows and bookshelves filled with girlhood knick-knacks and books. Lots of books.
Late at night, my sister would slide back the curtain and crack open a book. And begin to read aloud. She bestowed upon me the wonder of words, headed in part by the amazing Dame Agatha Christie, my first true love. “Death Comes as the End” will forever stir in me the craving of cold, burnt-dust nights, tucked cozily into my childhood, my sister’s voice drifting over the headboards.
Words are a treat. Prepared well, they create dreams and memories, fears and hopes; once consumed, they are digested by the reader, adding flavor to the imagination, enhancing the way one thinks and sees. The best of the best sit with us, our entire lifetimes through, allowing us, at any given time, to chew on an idea or concept we may never have thought of on our own. It is a truly glorious thing. And I have a voracious appetite.