When I was a little girl, my mom would bring me into her bed and let me help her do crossword puzzles. For some reason, doing crosswords calmed my mom because each word, fitting in a specific way, following rules, gave her unstructured life structure. I can remember being about four years old the first time she handed me a word jumble and let me draw lines around random letters. And, I remember it was just a year later when I got my own crossword puzzle book and a small dictionary and we’d sit, in her bed, for hours every weekend working on finding new ways to say the same things.
I started reading at a very early age and, in a lot of ways, I wouldn’t be here today without books. When my mom was suffering through her depression, I read. When she beat me, I ran to my room and read. When once, she accused me of being a ghost from her past, I ran under my bed and pulled books out of the secret spaces I’d made inside of my box spring foundation. And I read.
I was 10 when I first saw the episode of the Twilight Zone with Burgess Meredith and his books. I cried when his glasses broke because I never wanted to imagine a world where I couldn’t read. I was 12 when I read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and, once again, I was moved to tears over the thought that a society might want to ban the one thing that kept me going when everything around me turned to chaos.