I mourned when the very first book I learned to read went missing. My mom still claims that she didn't sell it or throw it out and I still don't believe her. When I was in high school, I paid a local bookstore to search for another copy of the book for me since it was long out of print. I spent my hard earned babysitting money to find The B Book by Stan and Jan Berenstain. I didn't like babysitting and I really didn't like kids so it took me a long time to afford to pay for the search (this was before the advent of the internet and how easy it all is now). But books were that important to me even then. Of course, if I had had a bit of patience, I could have waited until my own children were little (see how I've changed?--now I only don't like other people's children--mine are generally okay) and we joined the Berenstain Bears Monthly Book Club or some such thing and snagged the copy that came for them one month (it's back in print again).
When I called home from college to say that I'd declared my major, no one had to ask what it was; dad just wanted to know what on earth I planned to do with an English degree post-schooling. He probably would have been unimpressed if I admitted I just wanted to read a lot and had no idea what I would really do with it. Actually, I suspect he knew but he also knew that I was a reader and always would be and to argue otherwise would just make all of us unhappy.
Every stage of my life has been defined by books. I can look at many of the books on my shelves and tell you how old I was when I bought them. You can track the evolution of my reading taste, from the love struck pre-teen to the literature major to the almost anything goes of my current life, scattered and crazy as it is. I still pull books off the shelf from other ages and stages of my life and quickly, easily, I slip back into the person I was when that book first intrigued me. It's much easier to find my younger self in books than it is in the mirror these days. And I have to say that oftentimes I find I'm not really that far removed from the girl I was, at least as long as I'm between the pages of some captivating read.
No matter what else changes in my life, books have been such a fundamental part of me forever that I think I must have a Dewey decimal number birthmark somewhere as yet undiscovered. It would only be fitting. Maybe I'll find it by the time I hit the next decade. In the meantime, share some book cake with me?