Parker never liked school much. The kids didn't like her (they recognized her for who she was), the teachers never understood (they thought all she needed was a firm hand and a few kind words), and she never learned anything useful.
The best way to secure your gear when swan-diving off the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the quickest way to convert precious gems to cash, the surest way to bypass voice-recognition software, these she learned on her own through trial and error.
How to charm a man with a sip and a smile, how to punch a man so he'll be out for hours, how to kill a man with your mind, these she learned from her team.
And what had school offered? Post-civil war history and periodic tables and polar coordinates. In what world was that useful?
She never paid attention in class, never did her homework, and the only book she'd ever read for English Lit had been on a bet. The book hadn't made a lot of sense to her at the time, but the whole reading thing hadn't been as bad as she thought it would be. Turns out books weren't so boring when you could win cold, hard cash on finishing one.
Two months after, she'd dropped out of school and off the face of the planet, or at the least off the grid. Three years after that, she was a new woman, with new likes (money) and new dislikes (losing money), new goals (stealing lots of money) and new skills (ways of stealing lots of money).
What happened in those three years was nobody's business but her own.
When Parker was twenty, while dealing with a getaway gone wrong, she found herself needing to blend in so she grabbed a book and hid her face. It wasn't until the police sirens had long since faded away that she noticed the title.
To Kill A Mockingbird.
Almost absently, she shoplifted it on her way out.
As she had to spend the next few days laying low anyways, she reread the book in her spare time. Some things that she hadn't really understood in high school she understood more clearly now. Others that had seemed so clear were no longer so. Funny how that happens. The one thing that remained the same was the kinship she felt for Scout Finch, a young girl who didn't get along with everyone, and didn't understand why people wanted her to do stupid things, and punched first and asked questions later.
When the police stopped looking and Parker could once again walk around freely, she tucked the book away and might have forgotten all about it if she hadn't come across it a year and half later when looking for gear for another job. Parker hardly registered it, her mind focused instead on the Guggenheim floor plans, reviewing the locations of the security cameras and heat sensors. When she'd finished yet another successful job, however, she did end up rereading it.
Since then, Parker's pretty much reread that book every year. It's dogeared and watermarked, but nothing's written in it at least. (Parker doesn't write in books. That's wrong.) It gets blown up with headquarters, though she doesn't really notice because she's planning how to steal the Davids.
But when they've won and left each other and she's all on her own, Parker finds that she misses the comfort of the book. So she buys herself another one. And while she's at the bookstore, she buys herself a few others.
Parker does a lot of reading the six months she's on her own. There's no rhyme or reason to what she reads. She reads anything and everything. It's not even that she likes reading or anything, she's just so bored there's nothing else to do.
When she eventually leaves her stuff behind to join the gang in Boston, she doesn't hesitate to leave all her books behind.
Well, all her books but one.
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. -- Scout Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird