Do you remember the first book you ever read? The first book you ever read in it’s entirety, by yourself? I do; it was “The Poky Little Puppy.” My parents always read my siblings and I books before bed (mostly a picture book version of the Bible). My siblings and I had always read while we were at our grandparents. My brother would read to my sister and I out-loud. I loved the stories. I loved books before I could even read. The Pokey Little Puppy though, I read that all by myself. It was 1st grade, and all my classmates had chosen picture books, but not me! I wanted to read a book myself! I wanted to finish a book myself! I loved books when they were read to me, but dang I fell in a deep love with books when I finished “The Poky Little Puppy” by myself.
Off Flickr: Steel Wool
My love for books continued through to middle school. There was one author I loved more than anything: Andrew Clements. When our class would go to the library, I would go slowly down shelf after shelf until I found the signature Clements book cover. I would get so happy when I pulled that book off the shelf and discovered “Oh! I haven’t read this one!” “Frindle” was my favorite Clements book because it taught me the beauty of words and language. For those of you who haven’t read it, it is all about a boy who questions why words are the way they are and why things are called certain things. He asks his teacher why a pen is a pen. Why isn’t it called a frindle? He continues to get every student in his class to call pens frindles, much to the upset of his teacher. As a middle schooler, this book really blew me away. Why do we call it a pen? If it had always been called a frindle, then would we find it normal to call it a frindle? Suddenly, my love for books grew into a curiosity. Why do we all find so much meaning out of these 26 letters placed in different orders? How incredible is it that these simple symbols can create an image in one’s head!
Off of Flickr: Paul Williams
I believe I read the entire middle-school library by the time I got to 7th grade (this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I did read a lot of books). I was excited to move on to the high school library; it was bigger and had bigger books! So, as a dorky 7th grader, I stumble upon Darren Shan. I must say, he is still one of my favorite authors. I had read fiction plenty before Shan, but Shan made me fall in love with fiction. Especially dark fiction. Shan also made me fall in love with series of books. It was crazy! I would finish a book (we all know the feeling of finishing a good book and thinking that’s the end of a portion of our life) and boom there would be another right there for me to continue the story! The cirque du freak series was everything to me my 7th grade year. Other girls were starting to develop, stuffing their bras, and learning to shave. And there I was, in my beat up converse and messy t-shirt, reading Darren Shan. I understood books a whole lot more than I understood my classmates or my changing body, so I stuck to the books. Shan got me through my awkward stage.
Off Flickr: Robert
One could say I become “popular” my sophomore year of high school. I hung out with the kids who wore the best clothes and drank away their talents. They always did great in school (though I believe it was mostly due to the fact that they were athletes and every teacher looooooved the athletes) but they also thought it was “lame” to read. They constantly called me a nerd for reading (which I now find as a compliment, but at the time it was the worst thing to hear). I had a huge falling out with that group of friends (a story for another time I believe) and discovered that reading IS cool. We were all assigned the Odyssey, and immediately the complaining began. “It’s so boring,” “It’s so long,” and “why do we have to read this?” I always read everything I was assigned in school, my grades were important to me. However, after the unit was done, I discovered that I was the only one in my entire class to actually read the Odyssey. I discovered this because all my classmates asked me for help with their homework; none of them had read any of it! It seemed as high school went along that most of my classmates did not read a single book they were assigned; they just got better at researching what it was about and bullshitting assignments. YOU KNOW WHAT HIGH SCHOOL GROUP OF “FRIENDS”: READING IS COOL, AND BEING INFORMED IS COOL! DEAL WITH IT!
Off of Flickr: Scott Smith
I cannot finish a blog post about my love of books without including the book of my generation: the brilliant J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. By the time I had gotten to high school, I had read the Harry Potter series in it’s entirety. I have never stopped loving it. My senior year of high school I reread all of the Harry Potter books for the third time in my life. I found it so crazy how, after reading the books twice before, I could still find little tidbits about the book that amazed me. J.K. Rowling, you crazy linx, constantly surprised me. The way small things in the first or second book foreshadowed things in the 7th book! The way that any fan theory may be possible because the world of Harry Potter is an endless stream of your imagination! You are amazing, J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter may be the reason I decided to be an English major. Harry Potter changed my life. I know everyone loves Harry Potter and it’s cliche to say I love it, but it is a damn good series.