My mom is a reader–not a huge one, but she was the first one to encourage me to begin and continue reading. She and my dad got us this whole ten-volume collection of texts, but the only one I really loved was volume #3, which contained oh so many stories from fairy tales to absurd ones to classic shorts to legends to OH. MY. GOD. I just want to read them all again.
Then my mom bought me my first pop culture novel: Sweet Valley. I forget, though, if it had been a Kids or Twins book. Either way, I got hooked. I borrowed every single one we had in the library, and I borrowed whatever I could from classmates–never mind that I was in no way close to them. I had books they wanted to borrow and vice versa. The books brought us together.
I remember during Intramurals (week-long sports activities) that fellow bookworms and I would sit along the hallways instead of cheering on batchmates as they went head to head with other levels because we preferred to read. I had an endless supply of Sweet Valley (Kids, Twins, High, University, Saga), Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Babysitters’ Club, Sweet Dreams, Love Stories and probably some less known other book series.
I also remember that when my mom gave me my first Nancy Drew book, we were on our way to Cebu. It was an overnight journey by ship, so I had my new book to keep me company. 🙂 Before that time, I had been reading only the Nancy Book stories from the library–the hard-bound classic ones–and then my mom got me my first “contemporary” Nancy Drew paperback. I was giddy beyond compare. On the way to the port I had already been sneaking peeks at the pages. I had to do it secretly because my mom wouldn’t let me read in the car because she said it would ruin my eyes (and she was right, huhu), but when we were on the ship and settled in, I had that book out quicker than Superman could catch a speeding bullet. I was done long before we had stepped off the ship the next day.
I don’t remember much anymore of the different book titles I read in my youth, only that they were mainly Sweet Valley and Nancy Drew books.
I started reading more serious stuff when I got to high school. I remember reading Austen’s Persuasion after I graduating from grade school (I think) and Pride and Prejudice a few years later. I didn’t understand them, to be honest, mainly because Austen’s prose was too much to handle for a pre-teen. I watched the movies when I got copies, and they helped me understand the stories when I read them again.
When it was time to apply for college, I was torn between taking up Psych or Literature or Japanese Studies–all these being my main interests at that point in my life. It was when my senior English teacher commended me on an essay that I decided to go for Lit. In hindsight, I realize that I only chose Lit because I loved to read. When it was time to read those tough but beautiful stories and critique and analyze them, I found myself way out of my league.
I persevered and survived. I discovered a love for children’s literature and young adult stories, but it didn’t mean I had turned my back on the more “serious” literature. Right now I have DFW’s Infinite Jest on my TBR pile. I’m 50 something pages in and I’m nowhere close to making a dent in this tome. Among the books on my TBR pile are Chocolat, Lolita, and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Um. Yeaaaah. The only reason I still haven’t cracked these books open is that I’m not sure I’m ready for the earth-shattering emotions I’m sure I would encounter. There’s something intimidating about emotions, isn’t there?
If there’s one thing about literature I love, it’s that it makes me think and imagine and FEEL, no matter how strong the emotion is. Literature is true, and it is powerful, and I love it.