I assumed you would take it for granted that in addition to being a scavenger of books, I was also a fairly obsessive and indiscriminate reader. In these days of concern about fake news, I look ruefully upon my younger self, and even my not-so-young self, for her willingness to learn about How Life Works by reading. I mean, reading is a great way to get information, of course. But I’m talking about reading for information to the point of getting life advice from comic strips. Seriously, I can’t tell you how often, in the throes of some grown-up predicament, I flash back to a comic strip. I’m pretty sure I learned about income taxes, driver’s tests, and mortgages from comic strips.
Reading indiscriminately, though, you sure do pick up a lot of information, quite a lot of which is not obviously useful and some of which isn’t even particularly interesting. Meanwhile, the rest of life goes on, and you probably miss some of it because you’ve got your nose stuck in a book, probably a fairly irrelevant book like a 1978 travel guide to Eastern Europe or an Erma Bombeck collection–I read her entire oeuvre up to about 1980 at my grandmother’s house.
Whenever my sister remembers something from our childhood that I don’t, I say, “Where was I?” and she says, “In your room, reading.”