I’ve been working on this post for about two weeks now. I wanted to give everyone a brief history of myself as a reader, and an even briefer look at me as a person. How I’ve grown and overcome some tricky points in my childhood. How I’ve become the person I am today!
Here goes nothing…
My dad made it a priority to get me reading from a very young age. By three I was reading aloud every night with him and not long after that I was reading to him whilst he fell asleep on the bed next to me. My whole family helped me with my reading – it was something we used to bond with each other. One of the first books I remember reading was Mervyn the Mouse. It’s a cute book with two stories inside, all told in rhyme, about a field mouse who has his tale chopped off by a combine harvester and then must learn to deal with the taunting that follows. I wrote a paper on it last year for my Children’s Literature class and got to re-live the memories of me sitting with my granddad in his chair and reading the two stories in this little tattered book.
The next big event in books I remember was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was first published when I was 7. My Primary 4 teacher, Mrs. Murray, sat us all down in a circle and began to read to us. I remember her holding the hardback version of the book and reading a chapter a day to us. After a few days I begged my parents to buy me my own copy so that I could read along with her, but I ended up finishing the book about a week later, well before Mrs. Murray had finished reading to the class. It changed my life. Every year from 1997 to 2000 I would await the next book hoping that it would not disappoint. And it never did. At this time in my life I was living in Scotland but had just found out that the next year my parents and I would be moving to Canada. In 2001, I went to see the first Harry Potter movies in the cinema – it was the first time I’d ever seen a movie in IMAX and it was spectacular. The years that followed brought the last few years of the Harry Potter series and, of course, the movies that accompanied. Whilst I enjoyed the movies, I wish they had left them to the imagination of children. Now I can’t help but see Daniel Radcliffe in my head as HP.
During my HP years I read other things, of course, like the Josie Smith books (when I was between 6 and 10) and then I moved onto some of Jacqueline Smith’s books, which used humor and great friendships to battle tough subjects that teenagers may face (like abuse, friends turning on each other, sex, divorce, etc). I think because I was an only child, I had a lot more opportunities to read than some of my friends who had bigger families. I think of that as a blessing and a curse. Too much time on my hands meant that, yes, I did get to read a lot, but I also never learned how to interact with children my age and found myself not being able to relate to anything going on with my school friends.
When I turned 13 I was living in Labrador, and struggling in school. I had found the move to be quite a shock, and had a hard time settling in and making friends. My grade seven teacher, Mr. John Hicks, believed in me. Being the English teacher, John and his wife, Kathleen, who was the music teacher, helped me see the potential in my writing and my singing – two of my favourite things in life. I was cast in the school musical two years in a row, and I began writing in a diary. I’ve had about seven of them since. All bound in black leather with different scribbles on the front, usually in nail polish – weird? Over the years I’ve lost track of them (how terrifying) but I have the first one and the most recent few. Sometimes I’ll re-read just to remember how far I’ve come.
A book that sticks out for me during that time is Go Ask Alice. Whether the diary is real or not, I remember reading it and thinking: ‘Wow, Sarah. Your life is pretty chill compared to this girl’s.’ I then read other “dark” books similar to this one like It Happened to Nancy, also by Beatrice Sparks. Looking back I feel like these books are a bit weird to read and I probably wouldn’t read them now.
During my first school year in Calgary I read Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt, which turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. We discussed it so much in class that I couldn’t possibly read it again and just simply enjoy the story, which is a shame, but still.. Its on my ‘favourites’ list. My grandma visited Calgary this year for the first time and she borrowed it from my shelf a few days before she went home. I didn’t realize until later that she had written a card, apologizing for taking my book hostage, and had left it where the book used to sit. She loved Dicey and her family’s tale so much that she read the next couple in The Tillerman Series and sent them to me from across the pond!
I went through a long phase of not reading and focused on singing and musical theatre. I spent hours laying in a dark room listening to soundtracks of Chicago, Wicked, Rent, Spring Awakening, Phantom of the Opera, Cats. I wanted to sing on Broadway. That was my dream. Although I didn’t make it I did perform here in Calgary. A lot. With a group called Stagestruck – it was a good time in my life. I was happy and I had a group of friends who were my age and who had similar interests. Everything took a downward spiral when the time to decide what I wanted out of high school came. I left Stagestruck and sort of lost my grip on who I was.
But High School changed everything…
I followed the path of singing again and sang with the school choir and in the Performing Arts’ Chamber Choir, which I successfully auditioned for. Slowly I gained confidence and with that came a rekindled love affair with reading. I started reading Twilight – it was the first time since Harry Potter that I truly loved characters and cared about what happened to them. Edward became my biggest crush (other than Joel.. tall and dorky and musical, he was shocked when I told him, but it ended up being okay – we’re still friends!) and all I wanted was to continue reading all about Edward, Bella, and Jacob. Those books molded the way I looked at guys. I wanted someone strong, who was willing to love me against all odds and fight for me, if needed. A blend of Edward and Jacob, if you will.
In my mind I blur the time between The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games. I always think they were one-right-after-the-other, but there was a substantial gap between the two. I didn’t read The Hunger Games until a friend of mine lent me her copy whilst we were lounging on a beach in Mexico. I have to say that after reading the first couple chapters I found it dull and boring. Eep! Oh no! The only reason I started it at all was because I had finished reading Sarah’s Key and The Help, and Elixir (which is actually a really good read) and I needed something to do so I wouldn’t just sleep away the sunny days. I put Hunger Games on a back burner until the summer of 2012. I was that person… The one that only reads the books because they heard the movie was coming out, and the trailer looked cool. After finishing it in a day, and after realizing that I had made a huge mistake, I continued to read the other two books and finished within a few days. Amaaaazzing! Obviously everyone has reviewed these books so I feel like I might as well not bother, but a quick word of advice to anyone who hasn’t read them yet. Please. Read them. After seeing the trailer yesterday when I went to see Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (movie review here), I can’t encourage you enough to read the books and love them before the movies taint your imagination.
As strange as it is to admit, I haven’t come all that far since high school. I’m not really close to finishing University, although I’ve finally figured out what I’d like to study, but that’s okay. Some days I get extremely frustrated with myself and think about where I could be. But whats the point in that? I am where I am, and the only choices I have are ones regarding tomorrow and the next day. I’m excited to be writing and reading again. As you can see, with this blog I plan to read so much that I forget whether I’m a shadowhunter or a young girl learning her, or just a girl who loves to blog and who is going to university and planning her future. Whatever the future holds I’m looking forward and upward.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Sidenote: I just gave B the link to this blog.. I hope he still loves me after reading it all [insert nervous laughter here]