Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.
Clean and Clear. Those were the very first words that I learned to read. I was four or five years old back then. Mama was helping me brush my teeth when she noticed that I was fixated on her bottle of facial toner. She read the brand name out loud, and I eagerly emulated the way she pronounced each word. Afterward, both of us were so happy that we bragged about my little achievement to Papa, who was taking a shower. Looking back, that was the moment when I discovered the satisfaction that comes with reading. Mama contributed much to my interest in written words. She told stories to my brothers and me before bedtime, never hesitating to exaggerate the dialogues with her soprano voice.
I wasn’t a bookworm (yet), but I wanted to improve my reading speed. When I was in first grade, I was given a Best in Reading medal because I could quickly read passages from the Bible and our textbooks. English eventually became my favorite subject. I enjoyed writing academic essays, journal entries, and poems. However, like most of my peers, I disliked reading assigned classics, such as Heidi and The Swiss Family Robinson. Fortunately, required reading didn’t make me resent reading in general.
Nancy Drew and the Phantom of Pine Hill was the first novel I finished voluntarily. I was inspired to read it when I saw my brother James complete a Hardy Boys volume. Although I really didn’t understand what happened in the book because of the tedious writing style, I was excited to read more books like it. Papa noticed my growing hunger for literature, so he devised a strategy that would help him save money. Before I could request new titles from National Bookstore, I had to write a report of each book I had finished and then submit it to Papa. His plan worked most of the time since I didn’t want to feel any pressure while reading. Thus, I was ecstatic whenever Christmas or my birthday came around; Mama would temporarily negate Papa’s rule and give me book allowance.
In 2005, I became an actual bibliophile. After watching The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I yearned to read the entire Narnia series. My wish came true when my uncle who lived in the USA sent me a hardcover edition that had all seven books. I enjoyed reading each of them, but I particularly loved the second, fourth, and fifth volumes. The Chronicles of Narnia is probably one of the reasons why I still find pleasure in fantasy books today.
In 2008, Twilight premiered in cinemas worldwide. Suddenly, vampires became insanely popular, and new teenagers like me were introduced to that wonderful thing called Young Adult (YA) literature. Some readers might cite The Hunger Games as the series that got them into the genre, but its popularity actually came after paranormal books such as Twilight and The Mortal Instruments. As a high school student, I now had enough money to buy books without my parents’ permission. I’m not proud to admit this, but when I participated in a regional student convention far away from home, I used the remainder of my pocket money to buy the entire Twilight saga instead of souvenirs and other pasalubong. I wasn’t surprised when Mama scolded me for a long time moments after I arrived home.
In 2011, when I entered the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in Language and Literature, my collection began to grow along with my allowance. Dystopian became a popular genre because of The Hunger Games, and I purchased many of its canonical series, like Matched and Divergent. I spent most of my breaks in the library although I disliked the all-knowing gaze of the security cameras. During my senior year, I realized that I could use my passion for YA novels for academic purposes. Thus, I decided to write a 200-page thesis entitled Gender, Capitalism, and Power Relations in Dystopian Young Adult Literature. I’m sorry that it’s such a mouthful. Every time I tell others about it, I can tell that their noses are about to bleed. Hahaha. Thank God that my efforts paid off; I was nominated for Best/Outstanding Thesis. Only God knows how much time I spent analyzing 12 novels.
After graduation, I became active on Goodreads and learned the importance of book reviews. Even though it’s impossible to remember all the details of the books I read, I can document my thoughts and feelings through book reviews. In other words, reviewing novels is like writing in my journal. With this in mind, I became determined to open a blog that I could use to share my opinions with others. My brother James supported my decision, and he even created a WordPress account/site for me. I have been blogging for two years already.
Now that I’m a young professional in the SEO industry, my collection is a legit library. Also, I’ve run out of shelf space. Looking at the bright side, my blogging privileges have reduced my book expenses. I am very grateful to the publishers (Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, and Penguin Random House) who continue to send me books in exchange for honest reviews. Books nowadays are expensive, and so are international shipping costs.
Ultimately, I wasn’t a born a bookworm. In retrospect, my family was the primary catalyst behind my bookishness. If my mother hadn’t told me so many bedtime stories, I probably wouldn’t have learned to love the beauty and power of written words. By reading, I strengthen my imagination, build my vocabulary, and develop my character. Of course, nothing beats reading the Bible, which for me is the most original book of them all.
How about you? What is your bookish history? 🙂
I tag these excellent book bloggers: