Many of my fondest memories from childhood involve books. Whether it was bed time stories with my parents, reading to my new little brother, the excitement of my first library card, or the thrill of finally moving into the “big kid” section of the library, my life revolved around my books. Despite being a healthy and active young kid, I often argued with my parents about how much time I spent reading…what they called obsessive, I called barely enough. Even today, despite being an adult and having the common sense to (mostly) not stay up all night reading by flashlight, the joys of reading and finding new books still brings back that excitement I remember from childhood.

Which is why I am always dismayed and slightly horrified by statistics that state 25%, or 1 in 4 American Adults, have not read a book in the last year. In fact, most adults only read four books or less per year (stats from this article). Yet despite the lack of reading, visits to public libraries increased in 2008, according to a report released last month from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Public libraries have minimal costs (my public library has a $1 charge when you sign up for a card, which can be waved under special circumstances) and provide a varied of media including books, audio books, videos, magazines, newspapers and computers. If Oprah says reading is good, shouldn’t every American be reading like crazy?

I, on the other hand, live surrounded by books. At the point that I moved to my current hometown at the age of eight, the library here was little more than a single room with a few overstuffed bookshelves. Today, it has a two rooms for picture books and beginning chapter books, along with toys and a play room; a room with young adult books and a few computers; a reference corner along with many computers for public use; and a giant room, several times larger than the original library, for general fiction, biographies, science fiction, ect. Along the back wall, with large windows overlooking the creek and downtown park, are window seats and small study tables (my favorite place to sit in the entire library). Who wouldn’t want to live in this library–it has everything!

I wake up in the morning and grab a book. I carry one in my purse or bag. I read during lunch, when I have a few spare moments, and at night while watching television. Maybe my parents were right, and I am a bit obsessive; I read what an average American adult reads in a year, in a month. But I would rather go to the extreme with a habit that increases my knowledge, helps me find a better and more fulfilling career, and improves my memory and mental health. I will always be grateful to my parents, who taught me to read, and the librarians who continue to be patient with obsessive readers like me.

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