Reading Fever

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Jeri Walker-Bickett

Jeri-Walker-Bickett

I’m thrilled to welcome writer Jeri-Walker-Bickett to Writer’s Notebook today – my first guest blogger! Jeri has a fantastic a blog JeriWB: What Do I know? which is a wonderful combination of author interviews, writing tips and book reviews. You can read my post, The Blind Assassin: A Lesson in Thinking Beyond the Expected on her blog today. 

Reading Fever by Jeri Walker-Bickett

Can you recall the last time reading fever struck? The symptoms and level of severity vary widely, but it’s probably safe to say the predominant sign of this disease entails its victim being possessed by a seemingly unexplainable desire to read. At its worst, this plague can cause the afflicted to lose sleep, lose track of time, and even lose their sense of self.

I came down with reading fever at a young age. My first foray into literature’s powerful grip caused me to imagine myself a horse. I vacillated back and forth between assuming the identity of the Black Stallion and Black Beauty as naturally one changes a pair of shoes. By high school, I succumbed to the throes of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat. Countless nights rendered me afraid to fall asleep out of fear the fanged-creature lingered just outside the window.

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

My last, and beyond a doubt, most severe case of reading fever struck back in November 2008. The first Twilight movie would soon be coming out, following the novel’s 2005 release. This was a reality I could not escape because at the time my days involved teaching English to high school freshmen. Practically every girl suffered from some degree of vampire-mania thanks to Stephanie Meyer’s wildly popular teen vampire series.

I don’t tend to read much young adult literature, but something in me wanted to know what awaited the reader who dipped into Meyer’s thick books and their beautifully understated covers. How could entire groups of teenage girls forgo gossip to keep their noses buried in those books? Then later, those same girls would argue the merits of siding with Team Edward or Team Jacob, and whether or not it was better to lust after a vampire or a werewolf. One day, a few minutes of class time remained, and a student asked if I would show the YouTube movie trailer for the upcoming movie.

Always eager to promote a love of literature, I acquiesced and queued the video. The boys belly-ached a bit, but watched in fascination as the female contingent of the class scrambled to pull blinds shut and gather around the screen. At first, squeals erupted, but the more domineering girls quickly shushed the others. At the end of the short clip, I witnessed the lot of them swoon. Then someone asked, “Can you play it again?”

httpv://youtu.be/S2T7d8j6I5I

I vowed to get my hands on that book.

As a former vampire-junkie, I felt compelled to pick up a paperback copy of the book from the local Fred Meyer store. The book’s story of a clumsy teenage girl who falls in love with a statuesque vampire cast its spell on me. For the first time since reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road I simply let myself be carried away by the power of the story. A sappy love story, but one that nonetheless harkened back to the days I too fell madly in love with a boy.

After the weekend, I returned to school for the two and a half days that remained before Thanksgiving break. With the rush before the long weekend, I only had time to offer students a teaser by pointing to the map of America where I had placed a sticker on Forks, Washington. Practically every student could guess that I had read Twilight over the weekend based on the literary locale.

Twilight Collage

Twilight Collage

What to do? Five glorious days away from teaching awaited. I had to get my hands on the rest of the books in the series. On my way home, I stopped at the nearest Wal-Mart. No luck. The shelves were bare. I ventured back to the Fred Meyer, but the second book was out of stock. I drove further down the road to descend upon the tiny Walden Books. Inside, I tried to act nonchalant as I competed with a teenage girl to peruse the shelves. My hesitance meant she beat me to the last boxed set. By that point, it was getting dark and tiny flakes of snow filled the sky. I hot-rodded my Mustang further down the road to another Wal-Mart, only to once again find shelves sans vampire books. Famished, I called my husband to let him know I was going to try one more store before finally coming home for dinner.

At the third and final Wal-Mart located within reasonable driving distance, victory was mine! I piled the three massive tomes into my hand basket: New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn. In the book aisle, a woman stopped me to tell me how much she loved the books. Then cashier gushed about how she couldn’t wait to see the movie, and before I got out the store’s automatic doors, another mother and daughter sitting on a bench stopped me to tell me what a treat I was in for.

Was it a treat? In hindsight, my critical side can say no. The books contain serious flaws. But at the time, I spent nearly five days straight perched on my sofa barely stopping to eat or bathe as I inhaled over 2,000 pages and succumbed to a reading-induced fever.

When I closed the cover of the last book, the fervor lingered. Only later would I revel in reading feminist criticism directed toward the books. For a short moment in time, I simply became a silly girl who fell in love with an impossible boy. And that was more than enough.

Sadly, I will probably never again experience such a full-blown reading fever as now practically any book can be downloaded to my Kindle within seconds. There is a lot to be said for how really coveting a book can make the reading of it all the better.

In what ways have you suffered reading fever? Please share your story by leaving a comment.

Jeri Walker-Bickett was born and raised in Wallace, Idaho, a rough and tumble mining town with a checkered past. The storytelling urge struck at a young age, but an undergraduate degree in writing led to a graduate degree in English education. Between living the scholarship-laden life of an academic bum, she did seasonal work in national parks. Jeri met the love of her life in Yellowstone and later married him in Las Vegas. This phase in their lives sparked an obsession with food and travel. They currently live in North Carolina with their pets. She recently published a collection of literary short stories titled Such is Life. Her forthcoming novel, Lost Girl Road, is a ghost story that takes place in the woods of northwest Montana.

Such is Life by Jeri Walker-Bickett

Such is Life by Jeri Walker-Bickett

You can connect with Jeri’s social networks via her blog, JeriWB: What do I know? She also invites you to browse the selections on her Amazon Author Central page.

 

 

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  1. I loved this post Jeri, not only because I could relate to the pull of reading , but I felt the tension building as you went from one store to another. Great stuff. I also had an Anne Rice phase and dutifully stood in a bookstore in San Francisco for her autograph while she was at the head of the long line in a black cape. I read Lestat the Vampire while I was on vacation in a 15th century farmhouse in northern Italy. I was engrossed to the point of being nervous to cross the stone floor and use the bathroom in the night, expecting the shutters on the windows to fly open at any moment. That is the real beauty of books when you are so enthralled that their fictional world rubs off onto your real world, whether it’s fear or other emotion that’s been stirred. Thanks so much for this guest post:-)
    A.K.Andrew recently posted..Reading FeverMy Profile

    • It certainly is a testament to the power of literature when readers can be so emotionally affected by the stories they read. I got away from reading Anne Rice’s books for awhile, but I am thinking I might want to read her latest one that involves werewolves. Plus, I still want to read the Harry Potter books someday. Maybe I can catch that fever during my upcoming move when I’ll be in the car for days and days with nothing to do but read! My husband devoured all the books on the boy wizard in less than two weeks.
      Jeri recently posted..Guest Post: A Lesson in Thinking Beyond the ExpectedMy Profile

  2. I’ve seen my daughter come down with a pleasant case of reading fever. She just had to get her hands on the next book in the Rick Riordan series … I now look for books in a series, so I can just get the next one for her to keep her satiated.
    Leora recently posted..Food Menus, Restaurant Websites and WordPress PluginsMy Profile

  3. This is a great post! Almost as good as having the fever myself. LOL Yes. I have had the fever and I am not afraid to say so. I am an avid reader, albeit a slow reader. I read all of these books. 🙂
    Geek Girl recently posted..Author Interview: J.L. PettyMy Profile

    • Cheryl, over the years I’ve realized my reading speed is largely contingent upon how much a reading fever a particular book gives me. I guess I need to be more in tune with that when it comes to whether or not I quit a book, since I usually trudge through until the very end, even if it takes me forever to get the reading done!
      Jeri recently posted..Guest Post: A Lesson in Thinking Beyond the ExpectedMy Profile

  4. The last time a fever like this hit me was when the last Dresden book came out. I started reading the Harry Dresden (by Jim Butcher) around the time of a motorcycle accident. I could hardly stand let alone walk for a month so I had plenty of time to do nothing but read. I tore through all the books that were out at the time. Now when the new one comes out every year I drop everything else I am reading in order to read the newest one. The part of this that sucks, only one a year and once I am done I have to wait another year.
    Jon Jefferson recently posted..Bits and Pieces: The ArchivesMy Profile

    • I have an uncle who won’t even dream of reading a series until the author finishes all of the books. He waits and waits, and then he will lay on his bed for days devouring the books. Aside from the Twilight books, it’s been a long time since I read titles that were part of a series.
      Jeri recently posted..Guest Post: A Lesson in Thinking Beyond the ExpectedMy Profile

      • Normally that is my view. I hate having to wait for the next book in a series. Terry Brooks has been doing been playing with my emotions since the late seventies (Sword of Shanara series). He keeps adding to the series just when I think he has written the last book.
        Jon Jefferson recently posted..Bits and Pieces: The ArchivesMy Profile

  5. I’ve never come down with reading fever to that extent, but I have gotten on a roll with reading to where I can read one after the other. Then I hit the lulls.

    Loved this post. I found your reading fever fascinating, and that you were like a school girl again, remembering a crush. Thanks for sharing.
    Denise Baer recently posted..Incredible aloud and extremely revised!My Profile

  6. Great post! I’ve had reading fever before, once with the Twilight books (although I wasn’t crazy about them, I couldn’t put them down! I wasn’t a fan of the writing style, but the characters captivated me) and once more recently with the ever so over-rated 50 Shades of Grey novels (which I am embarrassed to admit read all three in a 48 hour span with little to no sleep). It can be difficult to find a book or series that sucks you in so much you cannot put it down, I haven’t had reading fever in a while!

  7. WOW! I thought you were describing me. I was totally inthralled with the story and found my self doing the same. A very good friend of mine had given me the WHOLE series and it stayed on my book self for over a year. She finally embarrassed me into reading the first book and that was “all she wrote”. Flaws or not, the story magically pulls you in. You forgive the flaws because you are transported to another world, and for a moment there was pure pleasure and joy in that.
    Susan Cooper recently posted..How I Draw On My iPad/Part 5 “Creating a Monarch Butterfly Image”My Profile

  8. I absolutely ADORE being in a reading fever. There is something so gripping about it. Sometimes the book doesn’t even have to have literary merit but I will be so intrigued by the mystery and outcome that I can’t put it down until I get to the answer. My least favorite thing about a reading fever–I get so involved in the characters and the plot that when it is over, I have a hard time pulling my emotions and myself out of the character and the story. I have a hard time recognizing that I have simply been sitting on my sofa reading for the last 24 hours and had not actually experienced the tragic experience the character did.
    Mary Slagel recently posted..7 Things to Spend More Time On to Enhance your CareerMy Profile

  9. My reading fevers are not quite so wide. I’ll find a book – fiction, non-fiction, biography – and I MUST read it straight through in every minute I can give it. I can’t say I’ve been addicted to the degree you describe here. All good things happen with reading though, don’t they? So it must be a good fever.

    Loved this post.
    Patricia Weber recently posted..3 Ways to Drive More Sales Utilizing Email Marketing by guest blogger Eric WelkeMy Profile

  10. The fever burns hottest at 16, I guess. So many competing forces. Girls, boys and sweaty bodies. For me, it was Battle Cry by Leon Uris. Older teenagers going off to war with only one night left to remember them by, and one girl.
    Larry Crane recently posted..Blogging With Video, Hoping to Go ViralMy Profile

    • Larry, Battle Cry definitely sounds like a good book. For me, at 16, I’d say that was my true vampire phase, spurred in part by the movie version of Dracula that starred Winona Ryder. I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and did lots of research as well. I even had this idea to write a novel about a vampire who marries a witch… Anne Rice kinda beat me to it 😉 I just wish today’s super-natural creatures literally and figuratively had more bite 😉
      Jeri recently posted..Guest Post: A Lesson in Thinking Beyond the ExpectedMy Profile

  11. Was also struck down with reading fever at a young age. Used to buy about 10 books, such as the ones you mentioned, every summer before going to our country house in the archipelago.

    To be honest I have a severe case of reading fever and most likely always will have. Reading is how I get by in life. You learn not only from wise men like Cicero but even from reading bestsellers for entertainment.
    Catarina recently posted..Are night owls more intelligent than early birds?My Profile

    • Catarina, I really do admire and respect how you go back and forth between reading such heavy book and lighter, more entertaining ones. I sort of do so, but nearly as much as you. Your reading habit is pretty inspiring.
      Jeri recently posted..Author Interview: Ashley BarronMy Profile

  12. Doreen Pendgracs says:

    Thanks for profiling Jeri, A.K. It’s always great learning more about fellow authors.

  13. I totally have the reading fever! In fact, it’s what I centered my blog around when I first started reviewing books a few years ago. It’s the best! 🙂
    Penelope recently posted..The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen | Book ReviewMy Profile

  14. My last case of reading fever took place last year when I was prompted to start Kushiel’s Dart by an online book club. In the following months I read almost 2,500 pages as I dove into the second and third parts of the series. They are so all-consuming that they’re the only things I want to read when they’re around.

    I have to say, it’s fun getting caught up in a new world like that!
    Adrienne recently posted..Happy Friday: Jobbing!My Profile

  15. I definitely have reading fever. When I find a book I love I can’t put it down. Sometimes I’m still reading when the sun is coming through the window. I may be tired all that day but it’s a happy tired.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted..LinkedIn and Blogging Social Media Tools of Choice for Inc. 500My Profile

  16. Reading fever is one of the healthier ailments around, although it can be unhealthy for the pocketbook. The last time I went on a “bender,” it was a Canadian writer by the name of John Vaillant and his brilliant “Golden Spruce.” I read about a thousand pages in three days! You know a book is good when it leaves you wanting more. This particular story was about a rare spruce tree on Canada’s west coast, and the corrupt logging industry. Doesn’t sound anywhere near as exciting as it is! Regardless of the subject matter, I think it’s the style of writing that can get you hooked. I love a good yarn that’s based on a true story. Don’t we all?!
    Krystyna Lagowski recently posted..Mommy bloggers invade car showMy Profile

  17. The Anne Rice Vampire books did it for me too. I also cannot ever put down a Stephen King novel 🙂
    Becc recently posted..Weight loss, how I have sustained itMy Profile

Trackbacks

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  2. […] a long Thanksgiving break from teaching back in 2008. I’ve already covered that bout of Reading Fever in a guest post for fellow writer A.K. Andrew. The funny thing (or maybe not so funny thing) about […]