Everyone that knows me just the tiniest bit at this moment must have a hard time believing this, but it’s the truth. In fact, I used to despise the exact same things that could make my heart easily skip a beat right now; reading at 3AM with a shitty flashlight because I have to know what happens in that one last chapter (erm 57 chapters), the musty-but-in-a-good-way smell of an old book or the fresh smell of a brand new book, or having the author completely bewilder me at the end of a book with only a handful of sentences.
I grew up enjoying a chapter or so of some kind of funny children’s story with lots of beautiful illustrations being read to me every night, and I loved looking forward to tomorrow’s revelation of the next chapter. I grew up being encouraged by my parents to pick up a (children’s) newspaper or book, but they never forced me to do so by hook or crook – and I’m more than grateful they didn’t. I think it has a counterproductive effect to be obligating children to read, and I strongly believe reading like that can’t be enjoyed as much as when you make a discovery of that kind on your own, even if it takes significantly longer. The first book I read entirely on my own as far as I can remember is some kind of horse story, featuring a cover with a cartoon-like horse with lots of colourful ribbons in its hair. I recall liking it at first but putting it down after not too many pages in that hideous pink plastic shelf, and never giving it a second look. That would be about time when my ew-I-hate-books phase started, and only Queen Rowling was able to remove that curse from me many years later.
While the whole world was mesmerised by Harry Potter, I put on my grumpy face and sat in the corner murmuring over and over again “I hate Harry Potter, I hate Harry Potter”. In my own defence: I guess I was young and blind. Very, very, very blind. It took one of my mother’s famous persuasive speeches praising the HP-phenomenon – after she saw a trailer on television about the movie adaptation for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – to convince me otherwise. One thing led to another and soon I found myself reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and I like to say it didn’t take much more than “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” to kindle an addiction in me. I devoured one book after the other and I soon made myself a bed at the bottom of the blackest hole after finishing the sixth and last book at that point. What was I supposed to do with my life? Wait an entire year for Rowling to finish her last book?
The withdrawal pains mentally tortured me and when all else failed I desperately called out an SOS at my local library. Thankfully they were quick to find an antidote by the name of Eragon, and again I began to devour books as if my life depended on it. And I just never stopped. I’ve got no regrets whatsoever, even though my bank account complains regularly after I’ve given in to another Bookdepository shopping spree. There is just something about buying and owning a book, and – after finishing and loving every page of it – to be able to proudly place it on my bookshelf. Something about being subtly reminded of the great story, things I’ve learned, and characters I miss within those pages whenever I drive by it. And that’s something I just can’t seem to find in a library-book or in an e-book; I want to hold a book in my hands and smell and feel it, and that’s when I am thoroughly enjoying a book. I want to be able to keep it and not tear a whole in my heart when having to return it to the library or to the person I borrowed it from.
Were you instantly in love with reading from the very start, or did you need to convince yourself like me?