November 11, 2008
By GOLD, Davie, Florida GOLD, Davie, Florida
12 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I've always been a lover of books. My mother surprised me with 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett on my seventh birthday, and it was like opening up Pandora’s Box. I was hooked. She may have even come to regret it, because my newfound love quickly began to take its toll on her gas money with trips to the library. I was absorbing literature like pavement would absorb water during a heat wave. Size never intimidated me. Quite the contrary, actually; I started skipping the skinnier paperbacks, my eyes hungrily searching for anything over three hundred pages. What can I say? Those pages sustained me; they gave me something to dream about, people to look up to. They made me ambitious. If Harry Potter could overcome his flying test then I could too.

In many ways, I feel that, that first encounter with literature had a major impact on my life. Frances Hodgson Burnett planted in me a love for stories and words that continued to evolve with every book I opened afterward. My vocabulary expanded rapidly; you can imagine the surprise of my third grade teacher when I explained that my favorite word was ‘gregarious’. Books also helped me discover my love of writing. The stories helped me shape my own narratives, and their authors improved my ability to tell them. In fact, if I’m any bit a good writer now, I owe it the books I’ve read. I still draw on the writing styles of various authors, even when I’m writing articles for my school newspaper.

Most importantly, reading has given me a valuable gift that I treasure everyday: a clearer insight on life. From relationships to life lessons, books have been my constant guides. Thanks to them, I have an infinitely better comprehension of people. I think that when you read many different books with many different themes, you become acquainted with the minds and emotions of many different characters. You get inside their heads, quite literally, which, when applied to the real world, makes it much easier for you to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. In many ways, I believe that my mother’s gift of ‘The Secret Garden’ made a tremendous influence on my life by opening up a whole new world for me—my own secret garden. People have told me that I’m wise for my years, that I give the advice of someone much older with much more experience. Many wonder at the acuity with which I can speak of heartbreak and relationships and life’s trials. “There’s really no mystery,” I tell them, “I read.”

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