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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Williams chapter.

In my room a couple of years ago I used to have a dark, wooden bookshelf with every book I’ve ever read. Although I’m sure it must’ve started with some sort of order, the books ended up piled together one on top of another in complete chaos. Books from different periods of my life mixed indiscriminately: comics my mom would buy for me at the supermarket would be right next to some recognized classics.   Sometimes I used to just peer in its direction, constantly rediscovering books I had read long ago. “Oh, I read Little Women? Wow,” I’d think as my eyes would casually fall on random volumes. Sometimes upon finding those lost books I’d also remember what I felt while reading them, like when I “rediscovered” my Sherlock Holmes collection and remembered the excitement and anticipation I felt at 12 about Holmes’ and Watson’s endeavors. Or the disgust, shame and sympathy I felt at the more gruesome scenes of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Every once in a while I’d get a sudden urge to organize my little collection. I’d strip the shelves of their disheveled occupants, throw them on my bed, and start fresh. Cleaning both the shelves and dusty book covers with care, I’d spend a whole day cooped up in my room. Carefully handling every volume individually, setting them in order despite knowing they’d soon go back to their natural state of chaos, I often found the gems I didn’t know were lost. Stuck between the bookshelf and the walls, probably pushed back by the newer additions, was the very first novel I ever read: Percy Jackson and the Olympians. My mother had one day decided that she wanted to read it together, and before putting me to sleep every night, she’d snuggle in bed with me to read it. My mother would read it calmly and with care, dripping with emotion at every word. Through her soothing voice I was transported to the exciting worlds of mythological creatures, demi-gods, and gods. Holding this book I used to love, I remembered the excitement of Percy’s adventures, how I used to beg my mom for just one more chapter. Overflowing with curiosity about this book I had considered a masterpiece not too long ago, I decided to sit down and read it again.

Not surprisingly, I found it much less interesting than I did when I was 11. In my mind, Percy Jackson was encapsulated as a true literary masterpiece, but reading it again at 17, I felt almost ridiculous for having loved it. I had remembered in vivid detail all the monsters and creatures Percy faced; I could almost touch Grover the satyr’s fur, I could feel the rumble of the minotaur’s roar, and I could see the tip of Percy’s pen extend and shift until it had become a mighty sword. How could a book with printed, unchanging words make me feel so different just some years later? As I read it again there was no stark imagery, no excitement; I could only faintly remember those feelings. Instead, I felt almost childish for having liked it. I decided to pick up other childhood favorites like Diary of Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries in the hopes I could recognize that same excitement, to remember the masterpieces of my childhood, but to no avail. I had once felt so satisfied and accomplished having read these texts that now seem so simple.

It took a little perspective to see that these books reflected who I was at the time: they seem childish to me now because I was child when I read them. I was in need of adventure, of myths and legends, and of kids who looked and talked like me that also had to toil through life. The bookshelf, with all the different books from all the different points in my life, served now as a chaotic chronology of my life. Mixed together were the Archie comics I used to like when I was 10 with the postmodernist novels I learned to love in high school, and the poetry books I’d buy at supermarkets and at Costco. No, I guess I’ll never feel the same as I did before reading those words, but I’ll always remember laying my head on my mom’s shoulder as we both rested close together in my bed, and how my eyes would slowly flutter to a close as my mom’s voice transported me to the magical world of possibilities of Percy Jackson.


Clara Ramírez

Williams '24

Hi! My name is Clara Ramírez-Trelles, and I'm a freshman interested in majoring in Political Science, with a possible concentration in Comparative Politics.