By Shannon Matloob, 18, senior writer, Beverly Hills HS (2008 graduate)
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I was sitting in the library reading Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris and I looked up to see my friend staring at me with a confused face.

“Shannon, is that you? I didn’t recognize you!” I had just gotten reading glasses and figured she couldn’t recognize me because of the huge black frames so I said, “Yeah I just got reading glasses.”

 “That … and you were reading a book,” she replied.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my friend who has known me for years was shocked that I was reading. I used to label her “bookworm” and marvel at the fact that she actually read for pleasure instead of watching TV or napping. So when she couldn’t recognize me buried in a book, I wasn’t insulted. After all, at one point I wrote, “I don’t read” in the Favorite Books section of my (since-erased) Facebook profile.
I can’t think of the reason I didn’t like to read other than the headaches I got when I was younger, which may have occurred because of my poor eyesight while reading, and that I’d never read on my own outside of school and found the majority of assigned books, like Gulliver’s Travels and Don Quixote, boring as hell.

I hated my family’s weekly outings to Barnes & Noble that began when I was 12. I got headaches when I went in a library or a bookstore. It was so common to hear me say that I was allergic to the smell of books and couldn’t stay around them for long that people knew I would say that phrase before I even said it. The fact that I hated the first Harry Potter and refused to read any more of the world’s favorite series, convinced me more that reading wasn’t for me.

But all that changed while I was performing my daily “I’m an only child now that my siblings are in college and the whole house is MINE, mine I tell you” ritual during the beginning of senior year. As I was enjoying the emptiness of my brother’s room I spied his bookshelf. There were dozens of computer books and AP prep books but in the midst of the evidence that my brother is a genius, two books caught my eye.
First, Naked by David Sedaris. The word “Naked” sounded scandalous, and I love scandal. Then as I perused through the rest of the shelf, I saw a larger book, Glamorous Disasters by Eliot Schrefer, right beside A Primer of Chess. It looked interesting enough from the binding, but when I pulled it out and saw the image of a young man from his lips to his chest, wearing a colorful tie and blazer, I couldn’t resist. An hour later, I was sitting on my brother’s bed, oblivious to time passing and tests that had to be studied for, lost in the glamorous world of New York high fashion and corrupt billionaire parents hiring tutors to take the SAT for their children. Realizing I’d been at this for an hour, I snapped out of my stupor and began the crap-load of work to do for the next day.

Eager to find out what happened in the first book I couldn’t put down since my fifth grade obsession with Twins by Caroline B. Cooney, I spent the next few days reading before school and during lunch. I was again lost in the world of Noah, the broke SAT tutor who desperately wants to join the elite upper class by tutoring the spoiled and stupid children of people like the ridiculously wealthy Thayers, while choosing between money and morals. Three days later I finished all 352 pages of Glamorous Disasters, a personal record by months. When I finally finished, I was in the library and I walked out in a daze, confused as to whether I was in a New York apartment or in the staircase leading to my school parking lot.

I had no idea that one afternoon perusing a bookshelf would change my perspective on reading. I became book hungry, wanting to read all the stories and scandalous plots of fictional people’s lives. Glamorous Disasters was better than any show on television.

I started reading Naked every day. The hilarity began on the first page and continued to the last. Never have I read anything about defecating or feces and Davis Sedaris wrote about a very realistic experience of having to deal with someone else’s crap, literally, that wouldn’t flush down the toilet. I read the sentence “I seriously considered lifting this turd out of the toilet and tossing it out the window. It honestly crossed my mind, but John lived on the ground floor and a dozen people were seated at a picnic table ten feet away” so many times and couldn’t stop laughing at the image of Sedaris in his embarrassing predicament, not being able to call for help.

After I finished Naked, using the library card I was forced to get because of school research projects I checked out another Sedaris book, Me Talk Pretty One Day. I was torn between reading that and reading Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, a book I had recently bought that enlightens readers to the horrible consequences of their piggish eating habits and gives them healthier alternatives.

I’m amazed at my transformation from the girl who couldn’t stand books to the girl who can’t get enough. I have a list of more than a dozen books right now that I’m dying to read. I’m even daring to do what I deemed impossible: read huge books like Gone With the Wind, which is actually really interesting even though I’ve only read like 50 pages. I base my choices mainly on recommendations and reviews from librarians and friends, such as other books by David Sedaris and authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and those suggestions have been well worthwhile.

I never knew I could enjoy reading so much. Though I borrow books from the library because I know I won’t read them more than once, I always go on bookstore websites like and to see their suggestions of what I might like to read based on books I’ve already read. I’ve also put my name on my local public library’s e-mail list and they send me titles of all different types of books I’m interested in, like interior design, cooking and dieting, and classic children’s books I’ve never read but wish I had. I even go to small independent bookstores and never want to leave. Taschen at The Grove and Book Soup on Sunset have officially beat Disneyland on my list of favorite places. And I’m waiting for a free weekend to come up so I can explore all the independent bookstores in my area that are listed on

Two years ago, I never would have predicted that I would spend my Friday afternoons reading rather than napping. But now, with all the fun I’ve had reading and finding new books, I see that there really are books for everyone, even those who swear off reading and put “I don’t read” in the box for favorite books on Facebook.