Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash
The story of my relationship with reading begins in my mom’s car. Every time I entered the car, a Harry Potter audiobook would be playing. I’d find myself on the edge of my seat with every spell that was cast, holding my breath during intense battles, and to my mother’s dismay,scream every time the golden snitch was caught. Every time the car would turn off, I’d end up an empty void in my soul, waiting to be filled by the next drive. Eventually, I’d end up listening to the books and reading along with the narrator. A six-year-old with her gigantic Harry Potter book, and a CD player in tow; there are not many sights better than that. I miss those days when reading and I had a much simpler, and a much stronger relationship.
As the years went on, I found myself turning to new avenues of reading. My grandma (A high school English teacher) chose not to give me barbie dolls, or the new hip trinkets for my birthday. Instead, she would buy me a subscription to National Geographic Kids. At first, I was critical of this and questioned why she wouldn’t just get me something fun and easy to play with, but as I look back on it, she gave me something I wouldn’t ever forget: the gift of knowledge. I found myself getting acquainted with different parts of the world through these magazines.Standing in the jungle with Jaguars, roaming the plains of Africa with Lions.
Eventually, I’d move on to other new genres of literature, like young adult fiction throughout middle school. Vampires, werewolves, witches, aliens, the apocalypse, basically the whole angsty teen mix. Twilight was a frequent on my book list, as new ones came out, I’d always be one of the first to get the new edition. Something about sparkly men and hairy men piqued my interest. I remember listening to the audiobook in the car, getting home and scrambling to find where we had left off, I couldn’t until the next morning to find out what happened. I was constantly getting in trouble for having late library books, I always kept them longer than I was supposed to. Maybe it was fear of losing the world I had spent hours investing myself into, to this day I still have problems giving books away.
After middle school, my relationship with reading took the biggest test it’s ever faced: high school.
Let me begin with this, no one that I know loves being forced into reading. High school was exactly that for me. To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, none of these ever sat well with me. Instead of running home to the comfort of my books, I found myself begrudgingly reading, shoving literature down my throat like a mom forces her child to take medicine. I tried my hardest to invest myself in the books, but I never could. I found it hard to relate to a story that used older language and it was made even harder to relate to when I was involuntarily reading these stories. Quiz after quiz, essay after essay, all on books I could’ve cared less about. Walking to class was like walking on hot coals: miserable.
This turned out to be my new outlook on all my classes however, and two schools later, I found my educational home. Mrs. Patten my English teacher never forced us to read the classic “high school” books, she gave us ones that she thought we might actually enjoy like The Road and Fight Club. These books for me personally were easier to digest. The Road reminded me of my middle school days, spending hours reading about different versions of the apocalypse, and Fight Club’s narrative reminded me of the craziness of today’s modern society. The idea of a manic, soap making, the undercover street fighter was less than normal, and I think that’s why I liked it. It broke the ideal of your everyday typical book. Overall, these books were just fun to me, all for different reasons. Because of this, slowly my reading relationship began to blossom once again from the ashes of the public education system.
I graduated with high honors from Eagle Academy, something none of my previous teachers (or me) would’ve ever thought possible. I’ve slowly found myself becoming more interested in books, curiously peeking at the back covers, flipping through the pages and reminiscing on the smell of the paper. Reading and I, are currently holding steady, we’re still a bit dicey as far as relationships go, but after being ripped apart so cruelly, I’d say its pretty good. Never again will I allow myself to fall so far from literature as I previously had. I never will lose my chance to travel to a new world for a few hours, and I certainly will not leave my shelves empty. Reading and I, we’ll be okay.