What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?
My parents have always been avid readers. Every free second they have, they spend it reading something: A newspaper, books, magazines (my mum), pamphlets; anything made out of paper is there to be read.
I, on the other hand, as a kid, felt a certain repulsion towards books. I believe it had to do with the fact that I spent all my school days – and evenings – studying, which basically meant reciting pages upon pages of boring text. We didn’t have to know what the hell we were reading, or as long as we knew it by heart. Six years of that can ruin anyone’s love of literature.
Whatever little free time I had, I wasn’t going to waste it reading more. No. I wanted to get out of the house, walk, talk to friends, socialize (with my close friends of course, as I was very shy – see Always the introvert). Books, to me meant boredom, lack of imagination and daily agonizing moments waiting for the teacher to choose me to recite our homework.
That was until my parents bought me four little books depicting the lives of a bunch of cute little mice. The books were Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge series “Spring Story”, “Summer Story“, “Autumn Story” and “Winter Story”.
The lives of these families of mice, dressed in human outfits, attracted my attention like no other book had done until then. The thing I liked most about these stories was the amazing, detailed illustration which wildly fueled my imagination. I saw myself strolling in these forests, picking blackberries, talking to the friendly mice (of course I could talk to mice, I was seven!), helping light a fire in one of the huge stone fireplaces of these homes.
I would ask my mother to read these books again and again, month after month. After the fifth read, I had learned them by heart. By the real heart though, not the standard recitation mode I employed for homework. My mum attempted to introduce me to other books but I would have none of it. I always wanted the same bedtime reading.
These books allowed room for my imagination to flourish, to think that everything is possible. Later on, I slowly started reading more books, all similarly imaginative, like The Little Prince and Alice in Wonderland. Slowly but steadily, I stopped considering reading as a waste of time and started seeing it as a gateway to something bigger than me.
I still have these four books, safely stored in a box, in my storage room. And I still like mice!