By: Dani Kessel
Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid bibliophile.
Bibliophile: a lover (phile) of books (biblio)
I have a huge collection of books. I’m regularly checking out other books from the library. I have a large purse solely for the purpose of being able to carry books with me everywhere. You’ll find me reading most of my free moments, particularly in doctors office waiting rooms, while waiting for my partner to get off work, at any family gatherings I choose to go to. My partner even got me a kindle this past Christmas so I wouldn’t have to carry large, heavy books around with me everywhere.
I devoured books from the second I could read. Even before then, I’d beg my brother, sisters, mom, dad, neighbors, daycare providers–basically anybody who would listen–to read to me. One of my proudest moments was the day I got my first library card. The requirement for the library card is that I could write my own name on the card. It may have been horrible handwriting, but I was so desperate for a library card that I wrote it the first chance I could. That day, I checked out at least three books.
Ever since then, books have been my safe haven in the midst of a really hard life. They’ve gotten me through the worst times. Most of my schooling, I was being bullied to a serious degree. The teachers and schools wouldn’t do anything about it. So, I was constantly reading in school. I’d find comfort within the pages of a book. Ginny Weasley, Nancy Drew, Winston Smith, Daisy Buchanan, Holden Cauldfield, Odysseus, and many others were my friends when I had few. I was reading so much that my vocabulary sky-rocketed. One of my principals called my parents in to tell them that my standardized vocabulary test score was so high that I knew words that even they didn’t know.
Then, when I suffered through serious family instability, Hogwarts became my home. I was literally banned from reading the Harry Potter books in class during any reading time because I just continued rereading them over and over and over. What the teachers didn’t realize is that those books were the only thing keeping me alive. I continued reading them during lunch, after school, at night when I should’ve been sleeping.
Books also helped me to expand my mind. I already lived on three continents with people from all backgrounds, so I was already culturally educated and aware in a way many young people weren’t. Still, books opened my eyes to the pain of Anne Frank, Jeanne Wakatsuki (if you haven’t ready Farewell to Manzanar then you need to), and the horrors of historical periods like Slavery, the Jim Crow era, the Salem Witch trials, and the Trail of Tears. Books show what it means to be human–the good and the bad. When we read, we live the lives of not just ourselves but many others. We grow our understanding of the world. It encourages a strong emotional intelligence. Through reading, I was able to connect and empathize with experiences far outside of my own.
There is no question in my mind; books will always be one of my greatest loves.
I am grateful that I’ve always had access to libraries and books. I plan to pass on the importance and love of reading to my kiddos. They will probably always get books at Christmas. I will rarely ever turn down their request for me to read to/with them. Books are one of our greatest creations as human beings. I want to share that with them.
Now that you’ve heard my story, leave yours down in the comments below! Are you a bibliophile? Why do you read? Why do you love books? Also, please share your favorite book too! I am always looking for more book suggestions.