The rules at Bertucci's were clear on reading at work: don't. But I worked in the carryout alone many afternoons, and after the lunch rush there were only so many times I could wipe the counter and only so many balls of pizza dough I could prepare for the hostesses to give to kids.
So in between avoiding the cook who seemed to hate me and ringing up pizza orders, I sat (also frowned upon), for sometimes luxurious stretches, and read Kurt Vonnegut books.
Maybe "gorged myself" is more accurate. I started with Cat's Cradle, then Slaughterhouse Five and didn't stop until I'd exhausted the incomplete Kurt Vonnegut collection at the Newtown Square Public Library.
By the time I left Bertucci's at the end of the summer, I'd had my fill for a while but probably would have read just one more if it had been handed to me.
I hadn't known books could be funny and engaging, but also smart and serious and real. Suddenly, I just wanted to spend all my time reading.
Something similar had happened in high school when a friend lent me The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I didn't go on a Douglas Adams binge after reading it.
It was a year or so after college when I read Kurt Vonnegut again -- a copy of Breakfast of Champions I'd moved with twice after picking it up at used bookstore in Washington. I enjoyed it, but it didn't inspire the fervor my first taste had.
But if Kurt Vonnegut didn't give me a lifelong passion for Kurt Vonnegut, he did give me a lifelong passion for books.