Man, do I love books. I always have. My love for books started at a young age and has continued on since then. I find that whenever I have a terrible day or I’m incredibly stressed out all I have to do is open a book and I immediately am transported into an alternate world. This week, I was asked to write a post about my experiences as a teen reader and what led me to where I am today. The following stories are reasons why I love books and how they made me into the person I am.
Growing up, I was what could be considered a “goody two-shoes.” In fact, I have been told numerous times by my big brother that I am that exactly. I followed my parents’ rules on almost everything. I always did my chores and ate my vegetables. However, I broke one rule almost every day; I never followed the bedtime rule. Every time I went into my room, my light would stay on for extra hours simply because I couldn’t set my book down. Thirty minutes turned into two hours of reading once I got lost into the world of whatever book I was reading. Although I started doing this at a young age, I still find myself doing this today. Even though I seem to have less free time the older I get, I still enjoy reading and try to find all the time that I can to devote to it.
My entrance into the world of Young Adult Literature was spearheaded by none other than the Harry Potter series. I still remember my feelings of anxiety when I picked up the first book. It was the summer between my fourth and fifth grade school years, and my mom had suggested that I start reading it. Would I like it? Could I understand everything in it? After reading the first chapter, I was immediately hooked. Suddenly, the Muggle world didn’t hold a candle to the world of Hogwarts. The imagery and magical qualities of the books opened my mind to new thoughts and allowed me to live as though I was attending Hogwarts. I read the first six books within two weeks and was hooked. Since then, I’ve re-read the series numerous times, and each time I read it I’m able to go back to the carefree times of that summer. To this day, I am still waiting on my admission letter to Hogwarts.
My class was the one that all of the teachers gossiped about in the teacher’s lounge. We were the ones who talked in class and gave substitutes hard times. However, I was not necessarily included in the “we” portion stated above. When my class started talking after finishing assignments in class, I pulled out my book to read. When I was younger and had to ride to school with my parents, I would immediately go to the library and read while waiting for the bell to ring. While my classmates were more interested in talking or running around the classroom giving teachers a hard time, I was more inclined to sit quietly and read my book. So, I guess if I were asked if I were like my classmates in this respect I would have to say no. We read everything from poetry to the classics, and most of my classmates today will probably still tell you that they hated English in high school. They often despised the literature that we had to read and, in my opinion, this pushed them away from all of the wonderful literature out there. As my friends moved away from their love of literature, my love for reading only intensified. Through my English classes, I was entered into a world of different and new literature. Although classics never stole my heart, I still read them as I continued to read my young adult novels.
When I was a senior, I was as involved as I could possibly be. From basketball to speech and from FCCLA to my duties as class president, I was constantly on the go. However, everything changed one December night as I sat on a gym floor unable to walk without falling. My genetics had (finally) caught up with me, and I had torn both my ACL and my MCL just like my sibling, parents, and numerous family members before me. I remembered my moment of panic right when the doctor told me what I already knew: I was done with sports for my senior year and, if I was smart, for good. What in the world would I do now that I was hurt? I couldn’t drive myself places and would be spending a good portion of my spring semester both in pain post-surgery and in North Platte (a town about forty-five minutes away from my hometown) for physical therapy. This meant less time devoted to friends and less time spent on the activities that I loved. I was, of course, devastated. I had surgery over my Christmas Break and spent most of that time hooked up to an ice machine at my house (seen in the picture above). But, with all of this free time, what did I rediscover? My absolute love and passion for books! I spent my free time escaping my own reality and entering into the world of books that I loved. I re-read old favorites and found some new series that I fell in love with. It was over this break that I decided to enter into the field of English Education. I used books to help me get over the hump of that period of time, and I knew that I would forever love and appreciate them.
I know that to many of you this appears to just be a picture of an apple. However, to me, it’s much more than that. A red apple holds with it so many incredible and awful memories of my teen years. I, like so many fan girls before me, was a lover of the Twilight series. I remember my feeling of joy when I found time to crack open a novel from the series and read it, regardless of how many times I had read it before. I remember the feeling of deep, very real, depression that hit me when I read New Moon (Disclaimer: This was incredibly real. My friend and I bawled while reading New Moon, and I think that I would still cry today). I felt like my heart was being ripped apart, just like Bella’s was in the novel. Honestly, I think that my mom was probably a bit worried about me during that period of time. It was here that I realized that books have the ability to change us. Once we find the perfect book or series, we can let them consume us. I felt like I lived in Forks, Washington. I wanted to read and be apart of that world more than I can communicate on paper. These were the books that helped me through my awkward junior high years. I knew that I could escape every time that I read one of them, and that was my solace. Whenever I had a friend issue or something happened that upset me, I immediately dove into a novel to take my mind off of the situation. I will forever be thankful to the Twilight series and Stephanie Meyer for that.
So, there you have it. My odd, somewhat strange path with young adult books that led me to where I am today. Sometimes I wonder where I would be without the guidance that Albus Dumbledore gave me or the strength that I pulled from the character of Bella. Without books, my life would be dull and boring without a question. My reading as a teen opened up so many doors and possibilities that I love and am thankful for to this day. My past experiences have intensified my passion and spark for reading, and I can’t wait to continue with that as I go on in life.