I used to hate books

Bookshelf
J. K. Rowling — ‘If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.’

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.

But apart from giving you hours of silent contentment and entertainment, from showing you different perspectives of nearly everything, and from provoking and inspiring you books have even more to offer. I’ve experienced at first hand how books can result in the greatest friendships of all time, and in my case the one that caused it was a very specific book that was mentioned above: Eragon. After both loving the Eragon series Désirée and I started talking about them on an online forum, and we kept discovering more and more (and more!) things we had in common. Sending private messages through the forum turned into MSN’ing, and MSN’ing turned into texting, and texting turned into calling, and soon we knew when the other one was sneezing before the surrounding people onsite could even hear it. Four months ago we celebrated seven years of being best friends, and I’m certain there are many more amazing years to come. Christopher Paolini brought us together and I couldn’t be more grateful for such a kind, gentle, understanding, fun, and amazing friend like Désirée. Now, I will leave this paragraph as it is, since I find it extremely tough to stop writing about how wonderful it is to be blessed with a friend like Désirée. I’m fairly certain I could probably write entire sagas about the latter, which I won’t be bothering you with. Not now, at least.

Were you instantly in love with reading from the very start, or did you need to convince yourself like me? Say hi in the commenting-area below and tell me how books illuminated your life, or write about your favourite reads – I’m forever searching for book recommendations so don’t hesitate to tell me about that great book that just came to your mind :-)

4 thoughts on “I used to hate books

  1. Damn Lily, you again managed to turn my eyes into a waterfall. I still fear sometimes that you never clicked the ‘private message’ button and told me about your love for Eragon, and that all the amazing things I have experienced with you are an illusion of my mind, since I could never have wished more for a friend like you. And I still don’t know why I deserve you. You made my life one filled with more joy than I could have ever asked for, even while we sometimes don’t speak that much, I know that you are there for me and that I never have to doubt that our friendship will end. It is the best feeling in the world.

    Before this ends in a novel, I will tell you something funny you maybe didn’t know… My first books were also the ones about horses. And I detested them, haha. It didn’t make me hate books, as it did with you, but it made me want to read books that weren’t meant for some child in grade 5. I turned to Harry Potter not soon after, and became to love the magical nature of the story. Making me cry when i didn’t receive an invitation letter to Hogwarts at the time I turned 12, it still was a major part of my childhood. My aunt recommended me to read Eragon (She probably got tired of me talking about the boy with the scar, and wanted a change of topic). And gosh, I could never have imagined that reading that book would give me the friendship we now have, even meeting Paolini himself and having a picture of us three together… It kinda completed the circle, didn’t it?

    And Lily, I promise you that one day I will finish The Sword of Truth series, as a token of our friendship! Haha <3

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to thank you; to thank you for your ever-patient support and help, to thank you for our midnight discussions about the meaning of life, to thank you for always being there for me when I’m just 100% done with everything and everyone (except you, duh). You’re the best, kind, most caring, and sweetest friend a person could wish for. I don’t have the slightest clue what I could’ve done to ever deserve YOU.

      I just don’t have an answer for the question mentioned above, but I do know one thing for certain: this friendship will last a life-time and will exceed above that into eternity when we’ll be just dust floating around in space. Imagine that! “Oi did you just see that black hole??? My, it almost had us, didn’t it?” “The hell, that wasn’t just any black hole. That was the gaping mouth of the devil himself! But that sick manoeuvre we did there must’ve saved our asses”

      Like

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