How I become a reader

It has been a while since I write a post like this. Although I love to chat about books, series, and craft, the posts I more enjoy reading are the ones about life. These are the kind of stories that get you to know the person on the other side of the screen and have a chance to connect with.

Most people have their story starting when they were little kids or when they read the first Harry Potter book. Well, I never had that. I never read the HP books and only saw the first movie. So my story took more twist and turns than that. Since I can remember I always liked to read. Although I only committed to it when I was 20 years old. So two years ago! I know I’m such a newbie.

I have two books that I associate with my childhood. One being my favourite, Bambi and the other was from a French series called Martine. My love for this two stories is like any other. In Bambi, I love the story and how heartbreaking it was. I remember reading just the beginning over and over again as if the bad part never takes place and everything is good. Until these days the story still gets to me and leaves a hole in my heart when Bambi’s mom dies. Meanwhile, my passion for Martine comes from the illustrations. Marcel Marlier does an amazing job. My favourite story of the series is Martine at the Flower Festival don’t ask me about the story but I can talk and talk about the artwork.

Then came school and while for a lot of people it might be a point were they become readers for me was a turn-off. I didn’t care for any book I had to read for school until the 12 grade. A lot of the books were by Portuguese authors, but there was one that I like to remember since I hated it. I don’t know if my relationship with the teacher influenced my opinion on the book, I just know that I didn’t like it and never got too far into it. I’m talking about The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupΓ©ry. I love pronouncing the author’s name I feel like a french although I’m not a fan of the book.

I can’t know for sure but The Little Prince might have helped to keep me away from the books. At some point, I got afraid of reading. We all know that picking up a book is like playing Russian Roulette, you might like it or not. I became afraid of picking up books that I didn’t know for sure I was going to enjoy. I couldn’t ask my parents to buy me books because first of I didn’t know what to choose and second, I could end up putting it away. So decided to pick up books from my school library. It had a good variety but I still didn’t recognize any titles. I believe we all experienced at least once that overwhelming feeling when you go to a bookstore and you see books everywhere and don’t recognize name, covers or anything. I mean what do you pick? You don’t have any reference. I was in that situations and to make it worst I had no clue about what genre to read. I had just started how was I supposed to know? And then came again the primary problem, picking up something I didn’t like.

One day I read Jorge Amado, a Brazilian author with a story that got me excited and jumping around. For the first time, I knew what was like to wanting more of a story. The Swallow and the Tom Cat: a love story was such a surprise. The illustrations were terrible, I hate them so much but the story was amazing. I actually don’t remember much about it despite what the title already reveals. Although my fear was still there and unfortunately I didn’t read anything I liked for another 3 years.

Years passed by and I occasionally picked one book up but wouldn’t finish it or understand it as I took so long and got lost in the pages. Throughout high school, we would have required reads and also an oral review at the end of every term of a book of our choice. It was great that the school would give space for the students to talk about books that wouldn’t normally be talked about in class. This would have been the perfect opportunity to get into reading but I never got recommended any YA books back then.

In the matter of fact, one problem that exists in Portugal is that YA isn’t exactly a genre. More often then not the books are mixed with middle-graders and others are next to the adult section of the bookstore. So unless you do your homework and know the books you are going to spend a few hours looking around.

So I only enjoyed a book again when studying for my exams. I was reading Baltasar & Blimunda by JosΓ© Saramago with his unique writing style he got me interested. Most of the people hated it, but I liked every part of the story. I don’t believe I actually finished the book, but since it was a required read I already knew the end anyway. So I have missed a couple of chapters not more. I started to get excited about reading again and since I was older my fear of hatting books had long gone.

I still didn’t want to ask my parents to buy me books since I own a few. Obviously, it didn’t work. I tried reading a Nicolas Sparks novel and I didn’t care. Only when I discover Youtube and started blogging again, I received encouragement enough to settle my mind and buy a book that I thought I would like and read it all. I still remember as if it was yesterday, the day I sat on my bed reading for hours completely immersed in the story. The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore was the one that made me a reader. After finishing it, on my next opportunity I bought The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva. He was the one that thought me that even fiction can teach you a lot about history. By this time I was already caught up in the reading world. But only when I first reading Divergent by Veronica Roth I knew what was the YA genre and what I’ve been missing out. The countless worlds I could live in. Also, it was my first book hangover. Closing the last page and waiting for the next book to know what was going to happened got me pretty anxious.

Since then, my life has reading one book after another. Getting to know more booktubers, going more regularly to the bookstore, get excited about upcoming books and adaptations, caring a book my by side on the long train rides. It has been amazing times. And as the great George RR Martin once said:

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.