I could preach all day about how wonderful books are, and I think I may do just that! I started reading when I was quite young, beginning my journey with the usual suspects, the Famous Five, Secret Seven and the Five Find-Outers. I loved those books and the sense of each chapter adding new pieces to the puzzle, followed by the final revelation, sometimes accompanied by an excited ‘I knew it!’ from my end. My path followed quite naturally then to Harry Potter, which had the same sense of a ‘mystery’ that had to be solved. I followed Harry through the corridors of Hogwarts, longing for my own four poster bed, my own owl, my own spell books and the cushy armchairs in the Gryffindor common room, or perhaps the magnificent view of the grounds of Hogwarts from the airiness of Ravenclaw’s tower common room.
Then the day came when I did not receive my letter written in green ink, when my invitation to Harry’s world did not arrive, and I was forced to face the fact that I was a muggle with not a drop of magical blood in my veins. From this, at the time, dim realisation, my inventory of imaginary worlds was born. First and foremost was Hogwarts, but I kept that mostly to myself, because it was a private thing, and my friends in the muggle world had no place among Harry and the student body of Hogwarts school. I would be caught with my nose in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire twenty minutes after break time, and receive a half-hearted rebuke from whatever teacher was present.
I love books, there never seemed to be a time when I didn’t, or at least I’ve blocked those unpleasant times from my mind, though I was not completely without my little stories written into the games I played with my teddies and various other inanimate objects. Now my feet are firmly rooted in Fantasy and Science Fiction. Although Fantasy takes the cake among those two genres, although I do occasionally whet my palate with a crime or detective novel. My reserve of worlds to escape into, characters whose skin I can don when I need to be faster, stronger, braver, smarter, has expanded.
Books are my past, present and future. I want to write them, I am writing them, I want to give others a gateway to another world just as a gateway was given to me. Being the way I was when I was younger, always somewhere else, I had my share of encounters with bullies. They didn’t understand the way I thought, so they decided to walk all over me in the hope that I would conform. I didn’t, but they tried. I’m not saying that what I had was as bad as what some people get, but it hurt, and books were my way to ignore them. Books never told me that I was weird, or anything but perfect. Books love you for who you are, and for the fact that you chose to open them, to give life to what, without you, would be just a collection of meaningless words.
My parents helped too, of course, getting the bullies off my back before they could beat me down, but they couldn’t do much about the teachers, who saw a child who was always far away, daydreaming, and saw someone stupid. Now, teachers understand better, but I don’t remember ever feeling completely appreciated until I got into sixth class, and met a teacher who saw talent where others saw stupidity.
The next set of books I fell in love with were the Artemis Fowl books; they were cool and full of crazy, yet solid science. I didn’t get all the jokes the first time around, and every time I read it I get another one, and the sudden click of comprehension is enough to make me laugh every time. The character was an evil genius, a twelve year old with a crazy IQ and the resources to wreak havoc on human and fairy alike. In the first book, Eoin Colfer made you get all of the characters; let you slip effortlessly into their skin and feel the pain when they were mauled by an angry Troll.
There were many books after that, and they each touched me in a different way, leaving a unique imprint on my heart. My books are a part of me, and I a part of them, their stories immortalised in my mind, the memory of a sunny day in their pages. They made me what I am, and I owe everything to them.