Books are terrible.
Books are long and tedious. They challenge you. They make you angry and frustrated. They make you cry. Then they end – making you feel deprived.
That is exactly what make books so amazing at the same time.
As far as I can remember, I remember falling asleep with books in my bed. As a child, I used to have image books all over my bed before I could even read. My parents always worshipped reading and I think that is one of the greatest gifts they have given me. I used to take out books from the small library of my primary school, read them through the night and bring them back in the morning. Sometimes the other kids thought that I was doing that without actually reading them, just to show off.
I read children’s story of course. Or children’s version of grown up tales (Let me tell you I’d rather stay with some of the children’s versions, Robinson Crusoe among others.) The first one that touched me – that I can remember – was Little Women. Then, when I turned 10, a friend of the family who is a librarian gave me the copies of the first three ‘Harry Potter’. It’s cliché, you might say. Actually the first time around I gave up after the first chapter. It didn’t grab me, but then I persevered and fell in love. I fell head first into a crazy world and I have never really recovered.
Not only did Harry Potter help me imagine, made me realize things about both children and adults, helping me practice pronouncing weird names, etc. but it also helped me when I decided to learn English. Like any second language taught in schools, my English classes weren’t the best, but they were inspiring enough that I decided to take the matter into my own hands. The way I found was to first read the dictionary, then I started to try and read Harry Potter again, a book I knew so well. It was hard though, and I had to look up a lot of words at first. Then I decided to start translating, line by line into French. That was the beginning of how I became bilingual. Efforts that have not stopped yet as I always strive to be better. Now, 10 years later I have both a Bachelor and a Masters in English Literature. And I owe all of that to my love of books and my love of Harry Potter.
It was because of that love of books that I decided to study English literature. The first book I read during my undergrad was ‘A Room of One’s Own’ from Virginia Woolf. I had trouble getting through it that first semester 5 years ago. I liked it, but I was missing lots of information at that point. About English literature and about feminism. However, I picked it up last year again to read it for my Virginia Woolf class for one of my Masters’ seminar. I finally understood so much more about it, now halfway through my 20s.
Books have given me the passion for writing, for languages and words, for storytelling and imagination. I still adore Harry Potter of course. But along the years, new writers and new stories have come to enrich my life. I believe it’s okay to love both J.K. Rowling and Virginia Woolf.