Sunlit Pages Turns One: Before the Beginning

May 21, 2013

I have always loved to read. Always. I don't remember learning to read, but I do remember the first chapter book I read all by myself. It was Karen's Witch by Ann Martin, the first book in the spin-off series of The Baby-sitters Club. I distinctly remember carrying it with me when my family went out to eat at Olive Garden and curling up with it in the booth while I waited for everyone to finish eating. I was a very loyal reader of Karen's for a couple of years and probably got up to #2452 before I finally got sick of her two families.

After a childhood filled with books (and dozens of resulting memories, which I will be only too happy to share at a later date), I left for college and embarked on the Dark Years, that period of my life where The Goose Girl, Jane Eyre, and a few others were the only bright spots in an otherwise book-less existence. (Thankfully, there were many other non-book-related bright spots during those years which made up for the lack of reading. They were only dark as far as books were concerned.)

After graduating, I read regularly, but I wouldn't say avidly. It wasn't until Aaron was about seven months old that I started picking up books again in earnest. It was prompted by the intellectual rut I found myself slipping into. I thoroughly enjoyed being a mother, but I definitely needed something to occupy and stretch my brain, and books were my answer. It was at this same time that a friend recommended audiobooks as a way to make mundane tasks less mundane. Up until that time, I had been adamantly opposed to audiobooks (That's not really reading, I had sneered), but I quickly changed my mind when I realized how wonderful it was to fill up time washing the dishes with a good story.

That year (2009), I read 56 books (yes, I'm a nerd, so I keep track of these things). Had I ever read 56 books in one year before? I didn't know. But I had found my rhythm, and I couldn't stop.

After that, I found books creeping into all parts of my life: I happily took Aaron to baby story time at the library; I read to Aaron often throughout the day; I started making lists of books I wanted to read and books I had already read; I couldn't have a conversation with anyone without saying at some point, "So...have you read anything good lately?" I started wanting to share some of the great things I was reading with others.

I started not just rating books on Goodreads but writing about them, too. We had a private family blog where I would occasionally share favorite picture books (I called those posts "A and A's Favorite Books" because there was only Aaron and me back then). I also started reading a lot of book blogs for more recommendations.

The more I read, the more I wanted to have my own voice. I wanted to be able to comment on some of the blogs I was reading, but I wanted my name to be more than just a name. I was bursting with picture book recommendations, but honestly, I didn't think a single person who read our family blog cared one wit about our latest favorites. My reviews on Goodreads were getting obnoxiously long (hard to believe, I know), and I felt pressed to record them somewhere else. I wanted to weigh in on the Newbery, Caldecott, and other awards and book news. I wanted to share my obsession with the library. I just wanted to talk about books with other people who loved books as much as I did.

My frustration and irritation with not having an organized place to write everything down was driving me crazy. Every time I wanted to write about a book, I would think, See? You need a blog. A book blog. And then I would instantly come back with, I am not going to be one of those people with a million different blogs highlighting a million different interests and passions. I am not starting something so narrow as a book blog. But then I would find an awesome new picture book, and I would go through the same cycle of thoughts all over again.

Finally one day, I tentatively mentioned it to Mike: "I've been thinking about starting a book blog." I thought he would laugh at me or, more likely, just not give it serious attention. But he didn't do either of those things. I think by that point, he was well aware of how far my love of books and reading had gone, and he probably thought it would be an excellent outlet.

He started helping me think of a title (more on that tomorrow) and design a layout. And within a few weeks, I had a blog. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't impressive, but it was all mine.

Sometimes I feel self-conscious when people I actually know ask me about my book blog. A book blog! It seems nerdy. Some of them seem curious (what an unusual interest!); some of them seem baffled (you actually read and then write about all those books?); some of them seem genuinely interested (I love you!).

Regardless of what people think, I have just decided to own this part of myself. I love books. I love writing about them. I love talking about them. I love reading them. I love looking at them and holding them and feeling them. I love sharing them.

That is why I started this blog.

P.S. Don't forget about the giveaway going on this week! You can go here to leave a comment and be included in the drawing. Thanks so much to those of you who have already entered! I think one of my biggest fears was that only two people would comment, and that would have been such a lame giveaway.


  1. Two things: intellectual ruts can hit any time (I seem to be in one at this very minute), so it's always good to shake things up; and your blog is very important because it shares not only stories, but how those stories dispense and intersect with the big ideas on one end and the day to day of life on the other. So, if there's ever a vote to keep or ditch the blog, I say keep it. It's very good and getting better from what I can tell.

    1. Thanks, Uncle William! I'll be writing more about my blogging philosophy on Friday, but sharing connections and applications and personal experiences along with the actual book reviews IS one of my main goals, and I'm glad that's coming through.

  2. I loved the Karen books, too! I actually read tons of Babysitter Club books when I was in elementary and junior high school. It's kind of sad that those books now seem so dated, and my kids will probably want nothing to do with them. But I thought they were great.

    Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who fell into a non-reading rut! I used to read voraciously as a kid and through high school, but it fell off dramatically in college and now I find that I have to remind myself to read. You're inspiring me to make reading more of a habit again.

  3. I'm so glad you did start this book blog! :) it's one of my faves!

  4. Happy Blogiversary! I'm a voracious reader myself and I always enjoy seeing your posts.

  5. I think that's a lovely reason to start a blog, and look how much you are helping people with your wonderful reviews! :)

  6. Just a quick note to say how much I'm enjoying your blog. I love reading your book reviews and getting lots of great recommendations for my to-read list. I just checked your Goodreads page and was blown away by how many books you have on there! I'm also on Goodreads ( and have three little ones like you. One question I have for you is, where do you work in most of your reading time? I tend to read while nursing my little guy and while winding down to sleep at night, but I wish I could read so much more than I currently do!

    1. Charissa - thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I just looked at your Goodreads profile, and it looks like you read plenty yourself! But in answer to your question, I have to admit that I would not read nearly as much as I do if it were not for audiobooks. They probably make up half of what I read. Since I also have three kids, by the time I have time to read, the house is usually so messy that I have to spend that time cleaning up instead. Thankfully, I always have a great book to listen to, so I don't resent putting my house back in order (okay, sometimes I still resent it a little...). I also have found that snatching those small moments (while I'm blow drying my hair, eating breakfast, riding in the car, etc.) can really add up to a lot of reading over time.

      I definitely empathize with you though. I'm not a very fast reader, and so I'm always wishing I could get through more books! There are so many good ones out there!


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