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.


For Shelly & Mia‘s Write or Die Wednesdays’ prompt for this week: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King.

Write or Die Wednesdays

  • Vashelle

    Tam, I would have never guessed –through your speaking and writing– that English is your second language! When I was in college I learned that children who grew up with more than one language usually never master either of them, so it always amazes me when I find someone who has! You are so *awesome*, girlfriend!

    I love what you said about living as a traveler, adventurer and witness through books. Life surely can get boring otherwise…especially on an island ;-)

    So, I’m gonna need you to tell me how sex worked in prehistoric times! Haha. That sounds so interesting!

    • Tam Lee

      I was lucky because I got here when I was young, so it was only for the first few years that were really horrible. But those kinds of experiences stick with you.

      Life gets super boring on an island!

      Ahaha, I know someone else who read their first sex scene ever through Jean M. Auel books, quite randomly. They’re a series of books about an orphaned child who is taken in by neanderthals and then cast off by them. There was strangely a lot of caveman sex XD It was educating for a twelve year old!

  • Mia Sutton

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It always makes me happy to hear how books have changed people’s lives, and how it transformed yours. Books are so wonderful!!! :) Thanks for linking up with us, hope to see you back again next week! xo

    • Tam Lee

      I really enjoyed this week’s WoD! Thanks for organizing it. =)

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