Dirty Little Secrets

I fell in love with books at an early age. Allegedly my favorite book when I was three was “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” I memorized it. Of course I say allegedly, because I don’t remember this.

I think my book tastes developed normally. I fell in love with Beverly Cleary’s Ramona in grade school. I loved and hated Ramona and related much better to the older sister Beezus. Ramona was all my annoying little sisters rolled into one. How I pitied poor Beezus for having such a pain in the butt hanging around.

Then I think my allegiance shifted to Judy Blume. . . again it was Peter Hatcher I related to so wonderfully. Superfudge as a brother would have drove me nuts.

I remember reading “Forever” in junior high. It was scandalous. The first naughty book I ever read. It was the sort of book that was passed on the bus from girl to girl. We’d talk about it in hushed tones. Really, it was my first experience with sex in any form.

I think it was shortly after reading “Forever” that I discovered “Sweet Valley High.” Thus a book nerd was born. I adored these books. I ate them up. I devoured the first five, and then waited with bated breathe for the next one to be released the following month.

I adored Jessica and Elizabeth. I always wanted to be the daring, outrageous, popular Jessica. But I was, much to my chagrin, the studious, writerly Elizabeth. I was a junkie. I’d memorize all the titles, a synopsis of the plot and the order the books were published.

I’d write this stuff down meticulously in notebooks. I am not sure why, it was very important at the time. I would let my friends read the books and worry incessantly until they were returned safely to my shelf.

In ninth grade Amy Sader lost Sweet Valley High #5, All Night Long. I was devastated. She had lost one of my babies. I had to trudge up to Snyders and replace it. The books were only $2.50 a pop when I started reading them. I’d use my baby-sitting money. It was all fine and dandy as long as Snyders had all the books, but eventually the SVH catalog grew and I had to beg my mom to take me to the mall so I could purchase my fix.

God I loved those books. I dreamed of having twins and naming them Jessica and Elizabeth. I wanted to move to California, I wanted a twin sister; I wanted to be a sun-kissed perfect size 6, like the twins.

Sadly, I started to outgrow the twins. By junior year in high school I bought the books on principle and not for enjoyment. I had moved on, found a new literary love. . .

VC Andrews. *Swoon* the flowers in the attic series caught my attention. It was about a girl who wanted to be a ballerina. I wanted to be a ballerina! It was a match made in heaven.

After years of SVH, I was pretty sure VC Andrews’s novels were the epitome of literature. Incestuous siblings, ballerinas, evil grandfathers, attics. . . what more could a reader want?

Originality? Realistic characters? Plausible plots? Stories that make your heart sing? Maybe, I don’t know.

So I grew up on Sweet Valley High and VC Andrews. I graduated to Danielle Steele, Jackie Collins, Judith Krenz and a bunch of other pop-pulp romance bullshit. Oh yes.

But then a book turned my world around. It was called “A prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving. Oh my god! My world turned upside down. I loved that book with a passion only a 19-year-old can have. The symbolism, Irving’s characters, his words. Oh his words! It’s a crush that has spanned a decade.

I devoured all of Irving’s books and soon discovered Kurt Vonnegut. College opened my eyes to the likes of Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Philip Roth and Jeanette Winterson. *Sigh* so many books, so very little time.

Now I consider myself somewhat of a book snob. When people ask me what I like to read I reply, “snooty lit type stuff.” because I can’t think of any other classification. How do you classify David Foster Wallace? Nick Hornby? Dave Eggers? Douglas Coupland? It’s impossible.

Sadly, every person I know who hears that I like to read tries to push Anne Rice, Stephen King or some bustier-busting romance novel on me. Now before all you king and rice fans get all hopped up and start slamming on the message boards let me say, I tried to read both of them. I tried, I did . . . I just don’t dig them.

I am a book snob. I can admit it. But there are skeletons in my closet. Really, they are still there. Packed in boxes, because I don’t have room– over 100 Sweet Valley High books, a dozen or so VC Andrews books. I can’t seem to part with my book heritage.

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