It was January, and it was my eighth birthday. Jimmy lived a few houses away from me, and it was his birthday too. We were born on the same day of the same year. Strange coincidence, I thought, seeing as we lived so close to each other.
Jimmy and I exchanged gifts on special occasions. I don’t remember what I gave him; just that it was bought at a store and wrapped in fancy gift-wrapping paper. It was the correct way to honor such and occasion.
He gave me an item wrapped in brown paper. The wrapping was a cut up brown paper bag. I’m sure of that, even though years have passed since that day. Even though it looked drab and dreary, I couldn’t wait to open it.
I tore the paper as quickly as I could only to find out it was a green book. In fact it was the one I saw on his bookshelf. Certainly I was insulted. How could he just take a discard and give it to me as a gift? I knew he did the wrong thing.
After that, we didn’t play together very often. That was in part because of the winter weather, and mostly because he committed this travesty of young friendship. Frankly, I was miffed.
Summer rolled around, and one hot day I had nothing to do. The green book was sitting on the bookshelf in the living room. I couldn’t bear to touch it, wanted nothing to do with it, and became upset every time I saw it.
But that day I was beyond normal boredom. It was super-boredom, incarnate.
For some reason, I don’t know why; I went over to the bookshelf, and picked up the green book and opened it. The inside pages read, “Lad: A Dog” by Albert Payson Terhune.
I began reading this dreadfully inappropriate birthday gift. I couldn’t put it down. It was an amazing book that glued me to the couch for the rest of the day.
After that, I spent hours and hours scouring the local library for interesting books to read. There were tons of great books to occupy any young mind. And there still are.
That’s how I became addicted to reading.
© January 2006