The magic of books – Just call me Jack
It’s difficult to convey in words what books mean to me, but since it’s Write or Die Wednesday I suppose I’ll have to try.
My earliest memory of books is reading Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs & Ham, over and over and over again, until I knew the words by heart and could recite them, line by rhyming line, like a prayer. In some ways, it kind of was a prayer. It was the first book of (relatively) significant length that I had ever read, and the fact that I, an ESL kid who up until recently could hardly even speak or comprehend English properly, could read this book and understand everything, was a personal miracle. I remember relishing in that little triumph, borrowing that book from the library and keeping it beside me even as I slept. It was nothing more than a silly rhyming book, there were no huge themes, no real plot. And yet: it was important.
Fast-forward a few years, and I’ve moved beyond Dr. Seuss *grin* From third grade onwards I read anything that interested me–or that I could get my hands on. I read Jean M. Auel books and learned about how sex (supposedly) worked in prehistoric times; I scared the crap out of myself lying in bed with Stephen King’s The Shining; I fell in love with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy; I experienced new worlds along with Meg in A Wrinkle in Time; I got into Harry Potter fandom and forfeited half of my free time.
The change in me was so gradual that it was only when it had completely transformed me that I realized it: I was no longer a shy outcast whose accent and grammar kids would make fun of when I wasn’t listening. I was someone who got As and Bs in all my classes, who was in Honors and AP and who won essay contests and full-ride scholarships. I was no longer lonely; through my love of books I’d managed to connect to other people who had the same connection with the written word that I had.
Looking back on it now, that first successful book was like the magic in Jack’s beans, growing stealthily and steadily until one day there stood before me a gigantic beanstalk that propelled me up and up, allowed me to make myself into something more than what I might otherwise have been.
I could have lead a dull, mundane life. Instead, as a writer and a reader, I’m also an adventurer, a time traveler, a witness to sacred and ordinary things alike. I find myself climbing higher everyday, experiencing a new existence here, a different conversation there. Books, writing, have given me that. Nothing is more magical.