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Great Book World

I am not your average 20 year old. From a very young age my mother instilled in me the need and desire to read books. That being the case TV never became a needed or wanted form of entertainment. Magazines and newspapers abounded, as in any typical international household, but the topics and the brevity of the issues never called my attention. My favorite media was and still is found in the realm of fiction and non-fiction literature. I have kept hidden from reality for the majority of the 17 or 18 years I have been reading or have been read too underneath my bed covers or under the shade of a big tree. Throughout every phase of my life, wherever I have been, books have played a significant role in forming the person I am today.

I have not kept the memories of my mother reading to me, but those collections of fairy tales exist with their worn pages, and I faintly remember the morals and endings of the stories. I do remember that at the age of 13 or 14 my father invited me to come with him to pick out a present for my sister's birthday. I of course jumped at the opportunity to enhance my collection of my sisters things and offered my opinion, "books" I said. The first series I spotted upon entering the book store was the Black Stallion series, and without any consideration for my sisters preferences I selected three for my father to buy. Of course my sister read them, whenever she could get them out of my hands. My mother had always preferred reading the had always preferred the books with the happy endings. Except for our daily lives, the majority of our time was spent between the pages of a fairy tale getting to know the "Prince Charming" my mother was still secretly waiting for. Many of those Black Stallion days were spent in the sanctuary of the bathroom, where no one could get in once the door was locked. It was a difficult time for all of us, but I managed to hold on to my innocence and naiveté through the pages of those books. But this fantasy, as all illusions, did not last, and I was thrown in to a black hole of desperation from which I have only begun to emerge.

Roughly a year after my short romance with the Black Stallion, I was in a bookstore in Ocean City, Maryland, seeking an author patronize. We were on vacation, and I needed a book to "chill" on the beach. In a tiny bookstore off the beach I discovered the book The Witching Hour, still one of my favorite books by Anne Rice. I had by that time become interested in occult religions and themes since I had come to the conclusion that my Roman Catholic God had failed to do his job. By this time I had left my mother's house and had moved in with my father. I was not on speaking terms with my mother and had little use for spirituality. On the other hand the book afforded me a new family of powerful women who had occult powers. The heroine, Rowan, was born with the power to destroy and heal and I felt more like her than like myself. I had destroyed the already violent and cracking relationship of my parents and was meant to heal my sister into normality and health, or so our family doctor had told me. The pages at first turned slowly, but as I began to accustom myself to my new author's style, the story began to move faster and faster. The Mayfaire Witches not only dominated my fantasy world, but they began to invade my reality. I sought people who looked like what I had begun to look like what I had begun to look like. I wore only black and rarely stepped outside. I began playing in a band and experimenting with drugs. Slowly my attitude changed from one of naiveté to one of violence and corruption. My situation at home had become bad; my father decided that after a nine month separation I needed to go back to my mother's house and repair our non-existent relationship. That summer was the worst, and when I was given permission to work, I was more than thrilled.

I had by that time acquired an addiction to Vampire novels, having become familiar with Anne Rice's series Interview with a Vampire. While looking for The Queen of the Damned, the third in the series, I became friendly with the personnel manager of the Crown bookstore next to my school. That following October I obtained my first job, and logically it was in that bookstore so that I could keep up worth my outrageous reading habit. The following year and a half, the duration of my employment there, is a complete blur. My relationship with drugs and alcohol had progressed and was the vortex of my daily life. I had gone back to live with my father and my best using friend (running buddy) moved in with me, because her family situation was worse than mine. My room in my father's house was decorated in a black on black motif. I think I turned on the lights in my room once or twice in the entire time I lived there. My addiction was out of control. The books I read ranged from the Satanic Verses to Anais Nin. I contemplated suicide and found death romantic.

The August before my junior year of high school I made a promise to myself not to drink or get high until the spring; I only made it to October. On October 2 of 1993, after a homecoming party was busted I had to run from the cops. Two weeks later I found myself applying to the Phoenix school, an alternative program in Montgomery county preparing for the adventure of life time.

Of course the first book that came into my possession after I sobered up a bit was the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. To this day it travels with me where ever I go, like when I came here to Spain. The first 6 months of my recovery were crazy. I had to spend eight hours during school and the five or six hours after with the other students of Phoenix. I had no social skills and was completely unable to relate to the people around me. To deal with this absolute confusion I read between 10 and 15 thousand pages of anything I could get my hands on. The books I read ranged from the classic Beowulf to John Grishams' The Client. When I finally became accustomed to feeling my feelings my preference in books changed.

Today I still read Anne Rice, whenever a new book of hers is released, but I have expanded my horizons to authors like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and Isabel Allende. To improve my understanding of the world around me or to have a better relationship with my significant others, I read Marium Williamson or books like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, which I still think should really be titled "Women are from Earth and we don't know where Men are from yet." All this to get other people's experience with the things I was unable to learn at home.

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