In the month of February, I’m challenging myself to write more (everyday), share more, and risk more. Welcome to my A to Z series based on whatever came to my mind first. Enjoy the ride!
Books attach you to memories.
Some of my favorite memories include my hideaways in my beloved purple room as a not-so-angsty, invisible teenager reading the Princess Diaries series like it was my lifeline. My memories of middle school have me with a book in my nose. Reading in the back of my science class. Reading in my bedroom. Waiting for my brother to finish with the last Harry Potter book. Waiting for the next Princess Diaries book to come out. I can still feel the feelings of reading those books, and they attach me to that emotional point in my life.
Books understand you.
My love for reading was at first fueled by the power of connection. Connecting to a character who understood me, and that I understood was so liberating. I didn’t feel alone when reading these books. I found friendship with myself in a way that I couldn’t find in real life. I soaked up the feelings of being an outsider. Mia Thermopolis (Princess Diaries, come on people) indulged me with the validity of how awkward and unattractive adolescence truly is. In deeply understanding a character, I felt understood myself.
Books will always be there for you.
Somewhere in high school, I was forced to read things like The Heart of Darkness and Grapes of Wrath. These books, although high and mighty in their literary value (or so I hear), served to rob the joy of reading, making it a chore, and making me count down the pages. My English assignments served to show me that books were about facts, and if I didn’t know what color shirt that obscure Uncle character was wearing before they went home was, well DID YOU EVEN READ IT?
Years went by and a crazy thing happened when I began a new position as an English teacher. For one thing, I had to re-read a bunch of old goodies, plus I also had to catch up on some literature that was created in the last 15 years. And with this returned my love of reading. For pleasure. For fun. For connection. I may have abandoned books for a decade, but books have always been there just waiting for my return.
Books make you better.
Reading makes me a better person, friend, and citizen. Today, I read anything from young adult teenage girl love stories to World War II historical fiction. I find myself learning to empathize with injustice, grow awareness for hidden suffering that others may face, and think beyond myself. I find myself still thinking about certain characters and wondering about the realistic characters that they represent.
Reading is empowering and fun. It is lighthearted and thought-provoking. It’s a whole lot of things that can be anything at all. It’s a world of possibilities, but gives shade to the limited human nature. In realizing this, I realize that reading truly makes me better.
What was the last book that you read? How did it empower you?