I owe my love of books to my dad, who has always been an avid reader. Throughout my life certain books have remained in my memory, imprinted on me through the feelings they inspired by reading its pages, those feelings and emotions have stayed with me, providing a place of refuge when needed. Below is a quick narrative of these books throughout my life:
When I was 9 years old, my father gave me my first book called “Heart”, by the Italian writer Edmondo de Amici,. This was the book that welcomed me to the world of reading. My second book was the “Little Prince” by Antoine De Saint-Exupery, which I have read several times during my lifetime. When I got pregnant it was the first book I bought my children, and we currently still have three versions of this book to this day.
When I was 13 years old I read “100 Years of Solitude” by the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I vividly remember re-reading its pages, over and over, as I felt a door opening right in front of me showing me the brilliance of the human mental creativity. I clearly remember when Ursula (a character in the book) passed away, I cried, closing the book for a few minutes showing my respect to this imaginary, but majestic character. 100 Years of Solitude was the first book I bought in English. When I understood that I was going to live in the US, I went to a book store and bought it, it was the first book for my new library.
At 14 I read “Sophie’s World” by the Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder who introduced me to the fascinating world of magic books, in which your mind can expand with learning and at the same time become fascinated by the storyline. At 15 I read my first scary book (and the one that has scared me the most so far), “The Turn of the Screw” by the English writer by Henry James, which gave me nightmares for months. I loved the feeling this book gave me, after watching so many horror movies, no fear has been greater than the one I felt that lonely afternoon, reading this book as the night was falling…
At 16 I had a Spanish teacher who invited me to expand my knowledge of reading, I read “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha” by Miguel de Cervantes (I can still recite the first two paragraphs of this book) along with other distinguished Spanish writers such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Antonio Machado, Miguel de Unamuno, and many others.
My father did his job too, giving me a free pass to the home library with vast collection of Latin-American writers. I lost myself in the poems of the Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges, the Chilean poet Gabriella Mistral, the Mexican poet Octavio Paz, and the Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario (his poem “A Margarita Debayle” is one of my all times favorites, being able to remember the entire poem and giving me happy thoughts every time I read it.), among others. I devoured the books of brilliant writers like the Mexican writer Juan Rulfo’s “The Burning Plain”, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa’s “The Green House”, and the Argentine writer Julio’s Cortazar’s “Hopscotch” (which impacted me tremendously), and of course the Chilean writer Isabelle Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” (and “Paula” which I consider one of the most heartfelt written books, so raw with sadness and hope that it touches your soul).
I spent my teenage years indulging in coming of age books like the Gothic novels by V.C. Andrews “Flowers in the Attic” (the whole series), “The Babysitters Club” by Ann M. Martin, as well as touching books like “The Alchemist” by the Brazilian writer Paulo Cohelo.
When I got to college, I returned to my father’s library every time I would go visit, stealing a book or two right before coming back to the US to “read in the plane” but never with the intention of returning them. Among my traveling companions were the Portuguese Jose Saramago, the British Kazuo Ishiguro, the Belarusian Svetlana Alexandrovna Alexievich (one of my favorites writers), the Spanish Arturo Perez-Reverte, and the American Stephen King among others.
In my latest years I have continued to read, sometimes more committed than others, still taking into account every suggestion my dad gives me (The last book suggested by my dad was by the Argentine writer Eduardo Sacheri’s “Papers in the Wind” which I loved). He will bring me books in Spanish (even when written by American or other non-spanish speaking writers) and I will go and buy books in English, submerging myself with American writers more and more every day.
I take turns between old-time literary masterpieces, and new and upcoming writers. I take turns (simultaneously) between self-help books and fiction, mixing in autobiographies and comedy. I do work in expanding my reading experience, signing myself in the “Goodreads” book clubs, local book clubs, and following my oldest son’s reading adventures.
What about you? What books have impacted you the most? Which books are you reading now? What is your personal story with reading?
… and always keep a book by your nightstand… it may surprise you.