Even when I didn’t know how to read, books were saving me. Born in a family that doesn’t have a great predilection for books, the reason why I was so eager to devour them was quite a mystery. I have been the different one, always feeling as an outsider. I was so desperate to learn how to read those books that I used to make up the stories from the pictures. I remember that my friends from preschool thought I was already able to read because I was carrying books everywhere and telling them the stories.
When I was finally able to decipher the meaning of all those letters together, NOBODY could stop me. I used to whine, to beg my parents to buy me books. Then I would spend hours reading and reading. Books have given me more than anything in this world or even anyone could. Great knowledge and the ability to write fluently with no effort. However, the most important is that they have literally saved me from madness. At times when I felt abnormal because I didn’t like the same stuff other kids liked or, even in times, as a teen, when I used to think I was surrounded by idiots, because everyone was so stupid, books were my saviors. I’ve grown up in a small village, where nothing happens, where everybody is basically the same. I always wanted more than the provincial life I was in. And books offered me that. They have shown me a way out, that there was more in the world than that.
In my books, that was my story, my life. I could be whoever I wanted, I could do whatever I wanted. I felt part of something. I travelled this world and others, through magical lands, with dragons, sorcerers, vampires, knights, elves… Nobody can ever take me the pleasure of living those stories. I got to know in depth the human soul and nature, I felt the fear, the happiness, the sadness. I still remember the first time I cried while reading a book. It was deeply emotional. I felt connected with it, it was almost magical. I was able to travel to Argentina, Mexico, US, UK, Australia, Ecuador, China, Japan, India and so many other places! With my imagination, I could sense everything. The smells, the flavors, the textures…
My parents didn’t and don’t understand. My mother used to ground me, because I used to spend my vacation days reading and I didn’t complete my domestic tasks. My father laugh ironically and condescendingly and he used to ask “what the hell do you learn reading those things?”. Well, father, a lot.
Without quite realizing, I was accumulating precious knowledge, even while reading fiction. In conversations, it happens quite a lot to be able to say something about a random topic just because I read it somewhere. My brains have gained elasticity, adaptability.
The only thing bothered me was that I hadn’t anyone to speak about books. So I had to learn by myself what books to read. However, the task wasn’t easy. Nobody could lend me books, because I didn’t know anyone who actually like to read. Because I lived in a small village, there was no library. Books were expensive and I didn’t have much money. Later, my kind neighbor started to lend me some books, when she discovered that I really loved to read. However, they were mostly cheap romances that were likable, but not really my cup of tea. So, when I was able to get Internet in my home, I used it to search for titles, and then I found the Classics.
I started to read them vigorously. I’ve just found my drug. And then, when I went to college, one of my professors started to suggest more and more classics. I found a used bookstore in the city and I was spending the little money I had in there.
Now, even working and studying at the same time, I just have to read before going to bed. Those pages really save me from madness. When I was an awkward kid and then an awkward teen. When I had to submit myself to a surgery that killed great part of my teenage years. When my family was falling apart, among discussions, fights and suicides. When I was in college and everything was so disappointing that I just wanted to drown myself in alcohol. When I had break ups, lost friends, when I was betrayed. When I finished those years and I found myself without expectations. And finally now, when I am in a shitty job, and I feel lonely again, books are my constant companions.
My shelves will always be full of books. For me they are living things in there, hiding their stories, their characters, their despair, their happiness. Hiding all those incredible lands with incredible sights. And one day I will have a library in my own home!
Happy World Book Day for every bookworm out there!
A sample of my shelf.