Today I’m welcoming Tara McTiernan to One More Page with a wonderful guest post on her love of reading. Tara grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and loved reading and writing from childhood. In her early forties, she competed her first novel Barefoot Girls, which received praise from critics as well as being named “Best Beach Read” on Chick Lit Cafe’s Best Books of 2012. Cocktail Hour, was published in March of 2013. Her third novel is scheduled to be released in 2014 and she is currently at work on her fourth. Tara lives with her husband, Ash, in North Carolina. Welcome Tara!
I was a stubborn child. Mulish, nothing could budge me once I’d made up my mind about something. In first grade, I made up my mind I didn’t want to learn how to read. My teacher cajoled and then kept me after class. My parents wheedled and then threatened various punishments. Nothing would move me. Finally, my teacher suggested my mother spend a half hour every day reading with me.
As we sat together in the afternoons after school on our brown living room couch, my mother patiently coaching me while I resisted all the way, I started to notice something. This was a story that I was reading. I adored stories! My mother read me and my brother bedtime stories every night and I awaited every installment of whatever book we were reading with a combination of excitement and impatience. I couldn’t get enough stories – loved it whenever someone read me one, my eyes alight with visions as I slipped into another world.
But if I was sitting here reading a story, that meant…that I could have a story whenever I wanted one! Any time! I could just pick up one of the books on the bookshelf, not have to wait until bedtime or for a relative or a librarian to read to me! This was fantastic!
Suddenly, I took to reading like a fish to water. I read everything, graduating quickly from children’s stories to young adult fiction to fiction better suited to a high school student. But there were certain stories I just couldn’t get enough of: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Grimms Fairy Tales, the Narnia books, Charlotte’s Web, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, The Littles by John Peterson, and many more. Some of these books were given to me as gifts, but others could only be obtained at our small grammar school library.
So I took them out. Again and again and again. When I loved a book, I reread it endlessly, reaching the end and then turning back to the first page to devour it once more like a favorite treat. This went on until it became clear that I didn’t want to return these books. This was a problem, especially as there was only one copy or maybe two of each book available. The school librarians sternly told me that I was no longer allowed to take these favorite books out, that other children wanted a chance to read them too. I was devastated. I couldn’t have my favorite story anymore? Life was suddenly a bleak and dark place.
This went on until my mother started taking me to our town library, which was bigger than the school library and had many more books. Once again I started my pattern of renewing the same book. Everything was going to be fine after all: I had my favorite books back! What I didn’t know was that this library had a policy: you weren’t allowed to renew a book more than three times. When I found this out, I tried to think of a way around it, even considering…not returning the book! Although I knew I’d get in trouble, this was the tactic I settled on. And eventually, the librarians called my mother and we all sat down for a little discussion about their resident book addict: me. In the end, the rule was maintained and the town librarians started to keep a keen eye on me in the same way the school librarians did. They were troubling times and I never got over not being able to have some of my favorite stories when I wanted them.
Today I still cling to certain books with a steely grip, never lending them out to even my closest friends. I guess it all comes from those years of painful book cravings. These days, of course, the books are written for an adult audience. They include Gone with the Wind, Summer Sisters by Judy Blume, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, and every book by Amy Tan, Rosamunde Pilcher, Stephen King, and Elin Hilderbrand. In the same way as when I was a child, I reread these favorite books, sometimes to an obsessive level. I love them so much I can’t get enough of them. They are my not-so-secret vice. But now there are no barriers, no librarians shaking their index fingers at me. The only criticism I ever hear from friends and family is, “Are you reading that again?”
Yes. I am. And it’s wonderful!
Thank You Tara – the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood is a long time favourite of mine to
You an find out more about Tara and her writing on her website at: http://taramctiernan.com and on her blog at: http://taramctiernanfiction.blogspot.co.uk/
Cocktail Hour is out now in paperback and ebook formats. Please stop by again later today when you’ll have the chance to win one of three copies of Cocktail Hour!