by Kit Steinkellner)
Our Reading Lives features stories about how books and reading have shaped who we are and how we live.
I was so excited to get my driver’s license, but it wasn’t for the reason I think most teenagers are excited to get their driver’s license. I wasn’t, like, SO EXCITED to sneak out my bedroom window on Friday nights and speed off in my car and go get drunk at house parties and have cool conversations with cool girls and sexily flirt with sexy boys. I just laughed so hard typing that last sentence. Cool and sexy were words I could barely say as a teenager, let alone BE.
No, I was excited because a driver’s license meant that I inherited my dad’s old car and my dad’s old car meant that at lunchtime I could hop in, grab my sandwich and my book, and for the next forty minutes just eat and read.
“But you could have read ANYWHERE,” you say. And you’re right. It’s just that the idea of sitting by myself with a book somewhere on campus seemed like something I would be judged for, and I was seventeen years old, I didn’t want to be judged for ANYTHING I just wanted to turn invisible until I was thirty. I didn’t want people seeing me all by myself, lunch after lunch. I just wanted to BE by myself, lunch after lunch. I skew introverted, and having to deal with people all day long is hard for me, it feels like my personality has to run a marathon when I’m barely in enough shape to run a 5K.
“So did you not have any friends, is that why you ate lunch by yourself like the saddest of people?” No, my life was not a 90s teen movie based on a classic public domain property. I had friends. Friends-ish friends. I had people I liked and could spend time with. I just always wanted to spend time with the books I was reading a little bit more than the people I knew. There wasn’t anything at all wrong with the other students at my high school (I’m positive there was a LOT more that was wrong with me than was wrong with them). I just always had a better time reading than I did hanging out.
A decade out of high school, I have friends I like just as much as I like books which I am down-on-my-knees-praise-the-lord grateful for. Still, I’m also down-on-my-knees grateful that I had big Russian novels and Jazz Age short stories to keep me company in high school. I would have been so lonely otherwise.
This is Book Riot, I can’t be the only one who grew up being better friends with books than with people. That a small slice of my story, what’s a small slice of yours?