I remember the girl in the third grade who won the contest for who could read the most books in the school year. Why does she enjoy reading so much? I think the bigger question my 9-year-old self was asking was, why don’t I? I never recall myself being delighted by literature in my elementary years, contrasting from the girl who won the book contest. I always faced a book with one thought in my mind: that is too many pages, and too many words. I saw the book as almost a chore; the faster I could get it done the faster I could do something I actually liked. Did that make me stupid? Not liking books? I remember conjuring these thoughts frequently throughout my younger years. Reading, to me, seemed like attempting to conquer Mount Everest without any training - pointless and a waste of time. And maybe a little dangerous.
My house has always been filled with my dad’s favorite novels, autobiographies, and educational books. I never paid too close attention to them - why would I? My dad admires a dense book, I rarely notice how he sits in the same chair every night and intently absorbs information through a novel. My brother has adapted to this practice as he’s gotten older too. Instead of finding him scrolling through twitter, I often spot him enjoying an interesting book in his spare time. But I tend to ponder, did they experience the same shift into appreciating literature as I did?
I know my admiration for books blossomed in the January of the fifth grade. The Book of One Hundred Truths By: Julie Schumacher. I will never forget the name of that book. It was the sole component that allowed me to feel an appreciation for books, rather than dread them. I remember my thoughts clearly as our fifth grade class embarked on this moderately challenging book to read in class: Another terribly boring stack of pages for me to popcorn read in class for a month, what could be better. Well, fifth grade me was right about one thing; we most definitely popcorn read this book, but little did I know I would become so engrossed in this fictional tale I would genuinely look forward to go to school each and everyday. Keep in mind, I was never that kid. You know which one I’m referring to; the incredibly enthusiastic child who enjoys learning more than the average kid enjoys pizza. This fictional book captured my interest mainly due to the way it was organized. Essentially, this young girl strung along this giant lie, but revealed actual truths along the way; which were numbered and distinct. This feature truly highlighted the storyline and drew me into the actual meaning of the book itself. It was amazing. I found myself telling my mom all about this book when I arrived home from school, rather than uttering a stiff “good” when queried on how my day at school went.
My relationship with books only advanced from there. I began visiting my local Barnes&Noble with my mom because I was itching to discover a new story that stimulated my brain like The Book of One Hundred Truths. I started to distinguish my preference in literature, which genres I enjoyed, and which ones I didn’t. It’s something they don’t teach you in school, I’ve realized. Looking back, I believe my teachers should have told me that it wasn't that I didn't like reading, it was simply I hadn't found a book that allowed me to appreciate the beauty a work of literature has to offer to a young mind. Getting back to my genre preferences, I understood I favored fiction more than nonfiction - a key aspect in how I choose my books to read today.
That book in fifth grade defiantly altered my perspective on books entirely. Not only did it show me I could actually enjoy a book, but it taught me to never judge something before giving it a chance. If I hadn’t read that book, I would have never developed a love for books that I hold today. I can now read a book and enjoy it by placing myself into the plot, and truly observing from, and learning from, the author’s message. I would describe my fifth grade self reading this book as a domino effect. All I needed was a little nudge and then instantly, various books began to interest me outside of school. I think it is eye-opening that although I felt defeated with reading when I was younger, all I was actually doing was looking at it from a flat perspective. The Book of One Hundred Truths allowed me to realize literature in itself has hundreds of different aspects, allowing it to offer something unique to everyone. I now carry that view into my everyday life. Although I may experience a failure or setback, I must acknowledge the different aspects and options of the situation before throwing in the white flag. Because little did I know, that “Mount Everest” of literature, was very much possible to climb.