Caitlin Kane knows more about the impact of schizophrenia than most people could imagine. Both her parents were afflicted with the devastating mental illness, a disease that tends to run in families, and Caitlin and her brother grew up trying to navigate the chaos of living with two schizophrenics. Her tumultuous childhood left Caitlin determined to forge a peaceful and serene life for herself. Now 32, she is living her dream. Married to her best friend, she and her husband are raising two bright young children in the suburbs of Seattle. While her unusual upbringing has left Caitlin with emotional scars, she enjoys the love and support of her extended family and her challenging career as a pediatric nurse. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t shake the obsessive fear that the family illness will strike again, robbing her of her mind or stealing away the sanity of one or both of her children.
I read somewhere that most junkies can remember the first time they experienced their drug of choice. I must be the exception to the rule. I’m a junkie—a rapid book junkie—but I can’t for the life of me remember the first time I read a book. I remember reciting the alphabet in nursery school, and finally getting successfully from A to Z after numerous attempts. But I don’t remember learning how to make sense of letter combinations. Where and when I learned to read remains a mystery to me. So does the title of the first book I read in its entirety. All I know is that I got hooked on reading early on, and have been reading avidly, some say obsessively, ever since.
I suspect I inherited the addicted-to-reading gene from my parents, although they seemed to have had their habits under control when I was growing up. Both loved to read, and but, likely due to the time constraints of raising children and working full time, confined their reading mostly to newspapers and magazines during my youth. Oh sure, they’d read a book on occasion, and my mother was a frequent library visitor, but neither let their reading get out of control until after retirement.
In the early days, I too, felt like I had my reading addiction under control. I could go for days without reading, and could easily get by with a once every two weeks trip to the library. That all changed when I was 10. My mother returned to school to earn her teaching credential right after I finished fourth grade. Left unsupervised each weekday, I did what any self respecting book lover would do. I started riding my bike to the public library. That’s when I chanced from a casual reader to a book-aholic. With so many books available, I started experimenting. Instead of staying in the childrens section, I wandered around, pulling books off the shelves almost at random. Novels, biographies, histories, any book that caught my eye came home with me.
Eventually as I got older, I grew ashamed of my habit. In high school I hid my love of literature from all but a few close friends. The fear of being classified as a nerd was too frightening to risk, even for my beloved books.
As an adult, however, I stopped worrying about my reputation and began walking boldly into a library, any library, in broad daylight. That’s when the addiction really took hold. I started becoming anxious if I didn’t have a fresh book available to read. Now that I have an e-reader, and can download a new title in seconds, I no longer suffer from book withdrawal. But there’s not doubt about it, I’m still a library-card-carrying book junkie. And hopefully I always will be.
She is the co-author of two books on photography: Photography, Take Your Best Shot, and Capturing Childhood Memories, The Complete Photography Guide for Parents. Playing the Genetic Lottery is her first novel. She lives in Soquel, California.