I have become a book snob.

When I was a kid, I owned and read over 10,000 books. My library included everything from The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, to Animorphs. (Read my sad tale on this series next week.) I read so much, I actually won a contest at my school for the most pages read in one week.

Reading was my one and only passion growing up. I would let it fill me, disappear into books, be the characters on the page. Some books I gave away to the library, but only if I thought they were boring. (Emma was not for nine-year-old me. I still haven’t picked it up again and I’m definitely older.) My favorite books stayed on the wall-to-wall shelf in my room. I judged them “best” because when I finished reading them I would heave this huge, happy sigh and want to read it again.

Books that were worth reading again but didn’t make me sigh got placement in my sister’s room or downstairs in the office. (In case you’re wondering, my parents encouraged the habit and provided all the shelving. My moms collection took up the shelves in the kitchen, in her room, and merged with mine in the office. She’s also the one that counted the books when my dad suggested we might have too many.)

About a year before I moved to Washington, I started writing. I became just as passionate about writing as I had been about reading. I read books about writing, (of course!) read articles online about writing, went to workshops, and practiced in every way I could. I think that was what ruined reading for me.

All that writing and research reading took me away from novels. When I finally decided to just relax, I picked up a novel at the bookstore–and I wasn’t swept away. I was informed that the weather my hero was enjoying before he went out and did something happened to be dark and stormy. Woop-de-do. Haven’t heard that one before.

I set the book down, convinced it was just bad luck, and picked up another. This one promised me it was a best-seller. I opened it up, bracing myself for the familiar pull of a novel drawing me in, and got almost two chapters in before spying a research error. Well, two. Well–okay, anyone who has ever taken world history ought to have known how wrong those facts were. >.<

I put the book down, somewhat panicked, and kept trying books. Most of them weren’t that bad, but my internal editor sat on my shoulder the entire time pointing out things I never noticed before. Instead of living the story, I was just reading the words.

I left the store without a book that day, and all I wanted was to go back and try again. What happened? Where did all the good books go? Will I ever read again?

I thought about ending this post with those questions, but it would be doing the publishing world a disservice. In the house I share with my husband, I’ve got precisely 12 books that take me back to the days when I was a kid. The Key Trilogy, by Nora Roberts. The Enchanted Forest series, by Patricia C. Wrede, and The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. One of these blog posts I will take apart these novels and share why they worked for me.

Anyone else out there a book snob?

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