Confessions of a Reading Addict – with Caryn Caldwell

It began innocently enough: a brand new copy of Goodnight Moon and parents patient enough to read it to me night after night after night. But Goodnight Moon was the gateway drug for many of my generation, and I soon turned to more hard-core reads, such as Pickle-Chiffon Pie and Little Rabbit’s Loose Tooth.

In elementary school, our librarian fed us a steady supply of Shel Silverstein and Beverly Cleary. Once a year R.I.F. spread shiny new paperbacks on the school library tables and fed my addiction with one free book. Many a child joined the leagues of reading addicts after those visits. I was in love — obsessed, even. Libraries, bookstores, Scholastic fliers — I couldn’t get enough.

In middle school, melodrama ruled the day, usually with a good dose of paranormal phenomena thrown in. Christopher Pike and Lois Duncan kept me company every evening. My school work began to suffer. I neglected my friends, my family. I begged for one more chapter, one more paragraph whenever the outside world demanded my attention.

By high school I had turned to stealing books from my parents’ shelves. I smuggled battered Harlequins, travelogues, and classics to school, getting my fix between every class. Until I earned my drivers’ license. Then any book in the public library was fair game.

In college I majored in English, and learned to hide my addiction. I took to carrying classics and slim volumes of poetry to literature classes filled with snobby students who looked down on genre fiction and, like me, pretended they did not read themselves to sleep each night with a good novel.

I’ve gone through other phases: young adult lit in grad school, mysteries after that. I found others who share my addiction. I no longer feel shame when I crack open a paperback in public and smell the fresh paper, admire the shiny cover, delve into each seductive story, because I now know that I am not alone.

For most of us, an addiction to reading is not picky. Suspense, historicals, science fiction, classics, contemporary literature — we’ll read it all. In the end, even cereal boxes and shampoo bottles are appealing if there’s nothing else. Because after a lifetime of addiction, a junkie can always find the next fix.

Caryn Caldwell has been crafting stories since childhood (when she regularly rescued her Barbies from imagined peril), through her teen years (when she wrote depressing poetry for fun), and into adulthood (when she discovered that writing books was more enjoyable than housework). She has been an English teacher, librarian, and white water rafting guide, and is currently a stay-at-home mom who writes books during her daughter’s nap times. She lives in the southwestern U.S. with her husband, daughter, and two cats, and is a member of SCBWI and RWA. Her books are represented by Erzsi Deàk of Hen & Ink Literary Studio.

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13 thoughts on “Confessions of a Reading Addict – with Caryn Caldwell”

  1. Caryn, What? A junkie reader? I never heard of such of thing. Foodie junkie is more common in my neck of the woods. In fact, with this sudden compulsion to write a book, I have begun to soak in whatever books I can find, novels that is, to see how its done. Ask me to read about art, architecture and interior design, I am all over it, but fiction, ha, except for the one book I have read at least twice, “Gone with the Wind.” It is difficult to catch-up, but I am working on it. I still read my passion, non-fiction, can’t stop me from doing that, so with only twenty-four hours in a day, it’s difficult to read it all. I guess you would say I am an artist, architect, interior design junkie. But those have been my profession for, ummm, forty years. Now I will write my blog, it is a Thursday post, http://www.gailingis.com/wordpress. This week, it’s about Lisbon. The last two weeks have been fun-filled posts about a country I love, Sao Martinho Do Porto and the Algarve in Portugal. If you can divert your attention, come visit tomorrow. Thanks for visiting, fun post.

  2. Hi Caryn! Welcome to the Scribes. Great post and so true. I spent all my school years carrying books around and a high number of them were fantasy and sci-fi books so it’s no wonder I now write paranormal romance and urban fantasy! I guess it’s true- write what you want to read!

    1. Thanks, Casey! I’m a long-time reader, but was excited to get to post something.

      Yes, I loved to read fantasy and sci-fi books! And I was always the girl carrying them around from class to class, too. I guess we were busy teaching ourselves how to be writers.

  3. What would we do without reading addicts, Caryn? I’ve been one since my Dad taught me to read when I was four (what an enabler!). Both my parents read every night after supper, so really they had to read to me or teach me to read to myself. Then we all sat there reading until we began to nod …

    1. Ha! Parents are the best reading enablers, aren’t they? And yours sound amazing. What lovely evenings you must have had, sitting around, reading books together.

      My daughter is two, and she’s already trying to teach herself to read so she can get in on the action. Apparently being read to isn’t quite enough fun. She has to do it herself. I anticipate lots of evenings just like you had when you were growing up!

    1. Thanks Jess! My husband bought a Kindle for me a few years ago, and I think that’s exactly why: he wanted to have fewer books around the house. All it means, though, is now I have TWO ways to store books instead of just one.

  4. Hi Caryn! Loved this post! Sadly, I didn’t become a book addict until a few years ago. Now I’m playing catch up and loving it! (Just wish I had more hours in the day and didn’t need to sleep!)

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