first all nighter
illustration by Kiara

Ask anyone who knows me today, and they will say “Oh yes, she loves reading!” Being a self-described book nerd and dork of all trades, I often prefer reading to going out. Actually, let’s not mince words: I always prefer reading to going out. My spare time is spent reading a whole variety of books, from children’s to adults. I am content with the “bookworm” label because what can I say? I love reading ever so much.

Unlike many of my fellow bookaholics, however, I have not always been so smitten. Here’s my story in a nutshell: as a child I often laughed at the kids who read during recess. I really fell into peer pressure around this time, giving up all kinds of things I might have liked to fit in with other children. Active imagination is not something I lack, but reading as a child was never on the forefront of my mind, because I had television and movies to occupy my creative wants and needs. I loved the story time in our weekly library visits and enjoyed the time spent with my mom while she read me her not-child-appropriate-but-oh-so-scandalous murder mysteries. Basically, I enjoyed stories, as long as my lazy eyeballs did not have to read the words.

So, I knew how to read and I had a pretty extensive vocabulary for an 8 year old, I just felt like reading was such a drag. I would read the words on the pages, but I never immersed myself in the stories. So what changed? One very secretive Mr.Snicket entered my life: Lemony Snicket to be exact. While most students my age were enthralled with the amazingness that is Harry Potter (books I would later fall in love with), I was busy empathizing with the Baudelaire orphans. My aunt sent me the first book in the series; she always encouraged me to read. And what a turning point: I pulled my first all nighter because of a novel. I still remember reading late into the night, so strange then, but so not a big deal now. Would the kids be okay?  Would Count Olaf be caught?  Somebody get that baby! I just could not put it down, I had to know what happened!

I loved the mystery and creepy tones crafted by Snicket throughout the novel. I mean, for God’s sake, Lemony Snicket was not even his real name! I thought the man was a genius. All the clues that were left, the companion guide I got later, it all made me want to hop in the trash with a magnifying glass and a plaid fedora to hunt down answers to questions I didn’t even ask.

Since then, I have hundreds of late nights spent reading or watching television shows. I had discovered something about myself: I am totally in love with the magic of stories. I’m talking about magic in the sense that they are so good, I cry or scream or punch my couch.  Any sort of outburst and I know it’s truly great. It’s not the format that matters much to me: movies, books, poems, and music…I love it all. The really important thing for me is being sent to another world. Still, books have a special place in my heart because they are more intimate and I can really know what the protagonist is thinking.

There’s a reason living in other worlds is so vital to me: I was sick for years. I didn’t go to high school and barely left the house (tell you about that another time), but in that period when I did not have the strength to get up, books were my best friends. Their stories never let me down. So what if I could barely walk?  In this novel, I was a professional gymnast, and in next week’s book I’ll be a young sailor falling in love. Going to a library was basically the beginning of Choose Your Own Adventure for me, and that was oh-so-magical.

Since middle school I have been in many book clubs and have created vlogs and blogs that basically express my love for any particular novel at that time. I get so excited about books, it often scares people, but I want them to feel what I feel!  To me, authors are celebrities, publishing houses are places you respect, and the characters themselves—well, they’re family.  Every book I have ever read has contributed to me in some way.  I am the sum of all my books.

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April 17, 2013

Comments

*Baudelaire. Sorry I’m being such a grammar nazi, but I’m a fan and I have a weird pet peeve about character names being spelled wrong (I don’t really even care about my own name.). I’ve only read about 5 books in the series but the school library doesn’t always have a completed collection.

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