Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Info Junkie

I am an information junkie. It started many years ago, back in grade school. I love reading my text books--except for math--and learning all kinds of oddball facts that were never on the tests. I developed into "the scholar" in my family, and praise for my academic achievements spurred me on.

I was a voracious reader from an early age, and read everything I could find. Both of my parents were readers, my father especially, and there was plenty of material lying around the house, from encyclopedias to novels to magazines and newspapers. I remember reading novels by Frank Yerby and Frank G. Slaughter (my father's books) when I was no more than 10. The covers were racy--pulp fiction indeed--and very titillating to a 1950s-era child. I don't know how much of the content I truly understood--I caught few of the sexual implications in the scenes--but I did learn about the geographical settings of the books and other such background information. My mother subscribed to Reader's Digest Condensed Books and I read them all. It introduced me to a variety of mid-20th century fiction, and some nonfiction. Nowadays, as a writer I deplore abridgements of books and would never read such any more, but at the time it was a good way to be introduced to all kinds of fiction, and writers, I never otherwise would have encountered.

As I got older I started reading Time magazine--again, via a parental subscription. (I probably skipped most of the political stuff, since I didn't develop an interest in politics until my late teens.) What a great education a newsmagazine is, because it covers a broad spectrum of topics, albeit in a very limited way. I was a faithful reader of Time all the way through college and beyond.

I also started reading the daily newspaper when I was in high school and I have been a newspaper addict ever since. That's really the greatest way to pick up information and trivia. The best parts of the newspaper are not the hard news pages, but the other sections--so many factoids, treasures to an info junkie.

When I got to law school, however, I was forced to forego much of my pleasure-reading. I was working full-time while going to law school and, given how heavy the reading load is for law students, there simply wasn't time to read much except textbooks. Still, we info-junkies can't help reading wherever we are--from cereal boxes at the breakfast table, to advertisements and posters while walking down the street, to the free weekly newspapers in coffee shops, to anything we find when we're idle somewhere. Most of us carry paperback books around with us to read in otherwise idle moments during the day. Whether fiction or nonfiction, we're always learning something when we read.

The advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web has been a bonanza for info junkies. What a wonderful thing, to be able to get information about so many things, so quickly, and whenever we want it. Those factors, however, also make people like me become Internet addicts, because clicking on one hyperlink leads to another, and another, and another...Bet you can't click just one!

I still love the newspaper best, however, and try to read as much of it as I can every day. It is an info junkie's feast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was addicted to reading from an early age too, although I'm not sure where I got it from since my parents were not big readers. When I was very young about all we had around the house was farming magazines and the Bible. I read those, though. Out of my three brothers and one sister, only my sister and I developed into big readers. She was quite a bit older than me so I borrowed a lot of my books from her.