My love for books began as a slow burn. As a child, I did not like reading. In fact, I hated it. In school, I was deemed slow and not fluent enough since I couldn’t read very fast. My grade school was surprisingly strict about the dreaded Lexile score, to the point where I was barred from reading the books my friends liked to read. For example, I remember picking up the first Harry Potter book, thinking I would enjoy them since I liked the movies. My teacher and the librarian stopped me from checking it out and said to pick something within my Lexile score. I remember feeling crushed like a door had been purposely shut in front of me. Was I not capable of reading any of the books within the school? In any library?
Being a child, I began to detest reading as a response to being told I couldn’t do something my own friends and classmates could do. It wasn’t until I reached high school that I began to truly enjoy reading – I even loved it. I first began with YA fantasy books, like the Percy Jackson series and The Kane Chronicles. From there I moved on to slightly more somber fantasy books, like The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and The Darkest Powers series. Anything fantasy and/or supernatural, I loved reading those. I sometimes read the first books of other series but didn’t continue afterward, such as Divergent, Matched, and Graceling. Keeping to my fantasy roots, I soon discovered The Lunar Chronicles, which had fairytale and sci-fi elements. And then I read The Glass Castle.
I found myself slowly moving away from the fantasy genre and into more classic fiction. I read books like The Great Gatsby, the works of Jane Austen, and the Bronte sisters. I began to love the poetry and stories of the Dark Romantics like Mary Shelley and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I enjoyed reading Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray.
From fiction novels and poetry, I moved on to short stories, such as “Sugar Babies,” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. I also began to dive into stories written by Latinx authors, such as Isabelle Allende and Julia Alvarez. As a woman of Latin/Hispanic descent, I felt my reading-world open two-fold.
Reading became an immersive and transportive experience. As a teen, books were my escape from reality. It felt like going on an adventure where I knew these characters and was engulfing myself in their world. Reading helped expand my knowledge, and my vocabulary, and it gave me a wider perspective on life. I believe that books are essential to preserving culture, as literature is capable of withstanding the passing of time.
So, in honor of National Book Lover’s Day, I have a couple of suggestions of what you can do to participate. The most obvious is to grab your favorite book, settle down in your comfy reading spot, and read away. Perhaps you can choose a book from your to-be-read pile or try out something from a genre that’s not as familiar. You could also check out a book club. Another fun idea could be to trade your favorite books with a fellow bookworm. You could simply go to your local library or bookstore and select something from there. However you choose to spend the day, you can’t go wrong with a good book, a nice drink, and a cozy spot. Happy Book Lover’s Day!
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