I owe my obsession with books to my mother, who read anything and everything, who kept our shelves stocked and who took me on regular trips to the library. When the Scholastic catalog would come to our classroom, my blessed mother would make room in our tight budget for me to order a few. I still remember how excited I’d get on book delivery day.
That might have been the reason I became a writer. Or it might have been because I discovered she had books with dirty parts.
I was probably 11 or 12 and, by that time, had a two-book-a-week reading habit. I was to the school library as Charlie Sheen is to hookers. And like Charlie, I’d occasionally hit bottom, find myself lying awake at night with nothing left to ease my craving. That’s when I’d raid my mom’s bookshelf.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Gone With the Wind.
Tried it. Didn’t like it.
One by that guy who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Read it. Didn’t understand it.
What do we have here?
The Other Side of Midnight.
Haven’t read that. Let me take that upstairs to my bedroo….HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, THERE ARE NAKED PEOPLE IN HERE!
That sure as hell never showed up in the Scholastic catalog.
I looked left. I looked right, and then I smuggled it away for intensive scientific study. I lacked the sufficient undergraduate courses to fully understand this new field, but nonetheless, my mind was blown. No longer were books innocent companions, the reading of which would earn you nothing but praise. Books could be dirty. Books could get you in trouble. Books were even more awesome than I thought.
So on this day after Mothers Day, I say to my mom, “Thanks, babe, for having books with dirty parts. It made me the writer I am today.”