So, I’m applying for this reading development summer program, and it asked me to describe myself as a reader and how I became one, and I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be for me to stop writing once I started. My love for reading and expressing it through writing runs so deep I didn’t even notice it, until I started writing. All of the excitement just rushed to my stomach, my fingers felt enchanted, and I just imagined myself with this huge grin on my face (because it was) explaining to someone what I love about reading or my favorite book/author. Reading is my first love and it hasn’t forsaken me yet. This is me trying to place all that excitement in a “concise” answer:
Reading has always been my escape. It was and continues to be my imagination manifested. When I open a book and begin reading I immerse myself into each character and into the world that is created by the author to the point where it feels like I am a part of that world. That is my favorite part about reading: the ability that a novel or short story has to take you away from your reality and bring you elsewhere. In my opinion, a book is not all that different than a movie, which is why many books are translated into films. As soon as the book enters my hands and I begin reading that is when the movie starts, and from there the movie plays out in my head. At times, much like when I was younger, if I am reading a particularly exciting or interesting novel, I have to force myself to not read ahead just to see what happens next, much like a person restrains himself from telling another person how the movie ends or from asking another person what happens next in the film. The major difference, however, between reading a book and seeing a movie is the fact that when I read a book the “movie” that is playing out in my head is my personal interpretation of the literature and no one else’s. When I go out and see a movie I am seeing the director’s interpretation of a script and the actor’s interpretation of the character they are portraying, but when the story goes from my eyes directly to my head I am able to project myself into the story. Each person has their own unique experiences and personality and all of that effects how a person is going to read a book. It determines who is their favorite character, what scene in the novel or story effects them the most, and why they dislike or love the ending, which is what makes reading so great and what has inspired me to continue reading into adulthood. Reading gives me the opportunity to put my own thoughts and experiences and life into a story that someone else decided to tell, and because it is human nature to change as one grows older, I can read a book at one point in my life one way and a few years later have a completely different interpretation of the same novel. Reading is always dynamic even though it may be the same story. I love the classic novels because of this very reason. Most people read the same novels in high school throughout generations, but what I find most interesting is the way these novels are able to be relevant regardless of the time period. A good book is immortal and can be read time after time and still remain just as good if not better over time. When I began public school in third grade there was a program called AR (Accelerated Reading), and students would get incentives for reading based off of how many AR points they received. Of course larger novels received more points, so many students would race towards the Harry Potter series (including myself), but that only sparked my interest in reading. All of the enjoyment that I receive from opening my imagination and world to the worlds inside each novel I’ve read is what keeps me reading and subsequently keeps me learning and expanding my mind.
A particularly impactful book that I read a couple years ago really challenged the idea of seeing life from different perspectives. The novel, Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult, was a novel that told the story of a school shooting from multiple characters’ perspectives: the shooter, the mother of the shooter, a friend of the shooter, and her mother. The title comes from the amount of time the school shooting occurred. School shootings are a touchy, tragic subject, however, when you are not involved in the shooting and you just hear about it on the news, all the information you get is numbers: how many people were killed, how many injured, and how many shooters. What you don’t think about or realize is the perspective of the parents of the student shooter: how they must feel, how blindsided and just as horrified and shocked as everyone else, or the perspective of the shooter and what was actually going through their mind. The novel did not belittle the severity of the subject or attempt to evoke empathy for someone who is undoubtedly a murderer; however, it brilliantly opened my mind to all of the possibilities of what could be happening on a mental level from those involved amidst the news coverage and hearsay. No other novel I had read up until that point really drove home the saying that you really do not know what people are going through and how they are coping with their lives unless you are in their shoes, and that is exactly what Piccoult does: places the reader into each character’s mind and allows the reader to see the world from their perspective. In making the novel first person-omniscient for multiple characters, it truly effected and changed how I thought about real life situations that are similar to the novel. It showed me just how little I actually know about what goes on around me and others. Although I may think I know the whole story about something, in actuality I probably know very little, and therefore I should not be so quick to make judgments or conclusions. I would highly recommend Nineteen Minutes to anyone who is willing to feel uncomfortable and have their knowledge challenged and humbled.
I began reading at a young age because it was something I was told I should be doing and because I had outside incentive to do so. Who wouldn’t want a pizza party in your classroom in elementary school? However, despite my reasons for beginning to read, what kept me reading was the feeling I get after finishing a great book: a feeling of never wanting that book to end, but since it did, I need to find another one to read so I can feel like that all over again. Reading for me is exciting and exhilarating and is a true source of freedom. Reading takes my mind where my body cannot go, and it makes what’s impossible in this world possible without bounds.