I recognize how lucky I am to have grown up in a family with a love for reading. I remember one of the first sets of independent readers my brother and I got; even though he was two years older than me, we often shared these sorts of presents, and I think that is probably where my passion for books came from. They were a Christmas present and came packaged in a blue milk crate. All of the books had the shiniest, glossiest cardboard covers, and I know that these books still sit on our shelves today, over twenty years later.

I am reminded daily where my love of reading comes from. Since I have moved out and moved back home with my parents, my bedroom also has the remnants of being their office for three years. Each day, I wake up and fall asleep next to an overstuffed bookshelf full of my dad’s novels. It is a bold but quiet reminder of how I am the way I am today.

A beautiful bookshelf!
There are a lot of books on this shelf.

My mother is an elementary school teacher with a reading specialty, and my father is a mailman who consumes, on average, two books a week and is never in the process of reading fewer than two books at a time. I remember reading with both of my parents as a child, but some of my favorite memories of books in general come from reading with my dad.

Not all of these are positive memories, mind you. I remember having to read “The Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury aloud to Dad because I couldn’t read it without falling asleep. In my mind, it will always be “the story about time traveling and killing a butterfly that I had to read to Dad.” In fact, when I googled that main clause to find the title of this short story, I was a bit surprised to find it was by Bradbury, who is one of my favorite authors. Perhaps I would like “The Sound of Thunder” better now that I am not falling asleep reading it in an oversized, hardcover text book.

Dad was also always available for reading plays. I love plays, but I would much rather see them. In the rare instances we were assigned to read a play out of class, Dad and I would switch of characters, reading different parts in different voices.

But the real fun of reading with Dad comes from being the only two in the family reading the same book. This started when I was in fifth grade, and my teacher started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to us. I was so enthralled, I checked out the book from the library and read it on my own because I needed so desperately to know what happened sooner than everyone else in my class. I received the first three books for Christmas that year, and after I read them, Dad started them. This continued all the way through the final installment: Dad would preorder the book on Amazon, and I would wait anxiously for its delivery. After it came, I would read it as fast as possible, hiding my tears and joy from Dad, who would always let me read the book first. When Hedwig dies early in the final book and I sat sobbing on our couch in the living room, my dad said, “Well, it must be good. She’s crying already.”

Harry Potter is only the first series that Dad and I have read together before anyone else in the family. My mom finally got around to reading all of them, albeit a bit slower than the two of us. This trend has moved on to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, which Dad and I started reading in late 2011. We are eagerly awaiting the publication of the next book. There are many other books that Dad and I have read together, like David Benioff’s City of Thieves and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. (As an aside, MaddAddam is sitting impatiently on my bookshelf, teasing me every time I go to sleep.)

This past weekend, Dad started Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale. I had never recommended anything in the gothic genre to Dad, and I wasn’t sure he would like it. However, I loved the book so much that I simply could not keep it to myself. He said that he read the back of the book and wasn’t sure he would enjoy, but he decided to start it anyway. Now, he says he can’t put it down. In all honesty, I had pretty much the same experience reading it.

Books from the Bedside. Dad will read just about anything.

Dad and I don’t always like the same books, and we don’t always like books for the same reason, but I am glad that I have had the experience growing up of reading books and talking about them with someone else. I am excited for the day that I can share this familial bond with a child of my own. Until then, I will keep reading with Dad.