Reading holds so much power. Scratch that, words hold so much power. Having a book in your hands and losing yourself in another world is one of my favorite feelings in the world. The fact that words can transport me somewhere else never fails to amaze me. There are times when life is so crazy that all I want to do is snuggle up in my bed and devour a book in one sitting. But then I have to remind myself that I can’t always pretend I’m someone else or living in another world. I have to accomplish everything on my to-do list for the day before I dive into a fantasy.
Most people will tell you that they loved reading from a young age. Their parents or siblings would read to them every night, and that’s when they fell in love with reading. But for me, that wasn’t the case. Of course my parents read to me every night before bed, but I just didn’t find much joy in it. I was all for imagination and dreaming, but I wanted to live it out in the real world rather than lying in bed reading, or listening to, words on a page. So at an early age, I hated reading. In school, I would use SparkNotes to get me through every book assignment. The majority of the time, I barely even opened the book. Today, this breaks my heart. To think that I used to hate reading hurts my now-bookworm heart so much. I remember when my parents would take my sisters to a bookstore, I would either stay in the car or wait up front for them. I didn’t even want to browse through the books because I despised them that much.
It wasn’t until the summer before my junior year of high school that I fell in love with reading. I went on a cruise ship with just my parents and not my sisters and for the first time, I was a one man ship and not three. I was lonely without my sisters. I didn’t know who to hang out with (sorry Mom and Dad, I still love you) or what to do with myself. My mom and sisters were avid readers (and still are) so my mom had about 5 books with her. I was so bored that I asked her if I could read one of them. I remember her reaction when I asked – she was so surprised she just stared at me for a minute. Then finally she let me pick one of her books.
And that was when everything changed for me.
The book was Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. The minute I started the first chapter, I couldn’t put it down. I laid on a lounge chair and read the entire book in about 4 hours. My parents tried to get me to get up for lunch, but I couldn’t. I had to finish the book to find out what happened in the end! This was the first time in my life that I was that attached. Addicted. In love. I was so mesmerized by the words, the story, and the characters that after I finished the book, I had to read more. By the time the fourth day of vacation rolled around, I had finished all my mom’s books. I had to check out books on the cruise ship to read because I was reading that much and that quickly. I felt like I had to make up for lost time! From that point on, I couldn’t stop reading.
Today, reading has become a part of who I am. Words have become a part of me. I cannot imagine my life without books in it. The fact that I can lose myself in the matter of seconds leaves me feeling the energy running through my body. When I read a good sentence that I can feel all the way to my bones, I know I’ve picked a good book. Just knowing that reading a book can leave me feeling anything leaves me speechless. It makes my heart hurt when people say they can’t think of the last time they read a book was or that they dislike reading. Like my dear friend Lemony Snicket once said, “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”