meme about books and me

I've been tagged! The author, Stacey K, asked me to write fifteen facts about my love affair with books. Feel free to add your own.

Here goes:

1) I always dreamed of writing books. But I didn't know that I'd become a Young Adult author. Aside from Judy Blume (who still kicks ass) and that cookie-cutter Sweet Valley High series, the genre was almost nonexistent until it exploded in the mid-1990s. I still feel like I'm forever teen.

2) In 8th grade, I wanted to take Honor's English because they acted out scenes from Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities (complete with plywood guillotine). But Mrs. Horton didn't think I could handle it. She told my parents that I seemed "disorganized" in class (I must've looked like a walking disaster…papers spilling everywhere, not to mention, my crablike handwriting). Eventually, the teacher caved in…and that year, I played the hooded executioner.

3) If I asked my mom a question ("Do poison apples really exist?") she made me lug out the encylopedias and look up the answer. I loved reading those ancient encylopedias, which were bootleg copies from Vietnam with photocopied pages. The smeary pictures of the moon and planets reminded me of amoebas in a microscope.

4) When I buy a book, I always sniff the pages. Nothing like the fragrance of glue and paper, eau du ink!

5) Believe it or not, I’m a bad speller. My grammar isn’t perfect either. Or is it neither?

6) I hated coloring books. But I loved making my own epic sagas with notebook paper and magic markered illustrations of lobsters who lived in tree houses. My family still teases me about stapling the seam on the right-hand side (read backwards, like Chinese).

7) I used to stay up late on school nights, sneaking books like the Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh under the covers with one of those heavy-duty Color Change flashlights. Almost as ridiculous as my brother parading around the living room…a little boy with a blanket draped over his head, chanting, "Nobody can see me!"

8) My dad read to me every night after dinner. I’d sit on his lap, watching him turn pages, his scratchy jaw bobbing above my head. By age three, I was reading on my own. My parents assumed that I had memorized all my favorites. As a test, they handed me a newspaper. After I read the headlines out loud, they hid the Miami Herald from me.

9) The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel were the first books I remember reading, along with Leo Lionni's classic, Frederick (who gathered sun rays for cold winter days). Looking back, they seem wise and philosophical. I still have them on my shelf.

10) The first novel I read was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory during my summer vacation, age eight. When I finished, I turned off the light and hit the sheets. I woke up on the floor (the first and only time I've fallen out of bed).

11) My dad would load his little red MG Spitfire with books from the Air Base library. When he pulled into the driveway, I couldn’t wait for him to pop the trunk.

12) I bumped into Jane Eyre by accident. Somebody had tossed the book in the bushes at school, as if they couldn't take it anymore. I shoved it in my JanSport backpack and ended up reading…during every class…until I finished in a daze…dreaming of Mr. Rochester’s eyebrows.

13) Junior high was hell. And heaven was cutting class to walk to the children's library at my old elementary school. I'd breeze through the double doors, waving to the librarian (perched behind a "stop" and "go" sign at her desk), and sit on the ripped-up carpet (patched in places with masking tape), reading about Narnia for the ten thousandth time or flipping through picture books, which my best friend used to borrow and never return. More about her later.

14) Like Stacey K., I never crack a book's spine. As a kid, I used to seal them with Scotch tape (talk about geeky). One time, my biology teacher caught me reading a Dragonlance paperback under my desk. He snatched it away, marched to the front of the classroom and opened the book so wide, the spine snapped like a living thing.

15) My best friend in high-school would buy hardcovers from the bargain bin at Waldenbooks at the Falls, read them and return them later for full price. She had this whole complicated money-making system (which I found hilarious and somewhat disturbing) until she got caught stealing a book. I can still see the manager's twitching mustache as he hustled her out the door. He banned her from Waldenbooks. But she came back, of course.