The first essay assigned in my AP 3 English class this year was a “Why I…” essay. My classmates and I defined the reason why we do a specific thing in our essays. Some wrote about why they play sports. Others mentioned why they draw. For my essay, I decided to write about why I read, because reading has always been an important part of my childhood and my process of growing up.
So why do I read?
I have terrible eyesight. When I am not wearing my glasses or my contact lenses, everything and everyone becomes an indistinguishable, fuzzy image. My lack of vision can be extremely debilitating at times; nothing makes sense when I cannot even see it.
I suppose I cannot complain, though, since it is entirely my fault. My eyesight is so terrible because when I was younger, I used to read everywhere I went, all the time, even in almost total darkness. I spent so much time reading that I ended up with glasses and a obsessive love for books.
When I was only eight years old, I had just grasped the concepts and skills required to be a proficient reader. I actually despised the activity at first, hated the tedious work that was deciphering each word in order to form a story. Then, I came across the wonder and beauty that is every Harry Potter book. Within a year, I read all six books twice. (The seventh one had not been released yet.) During that year, I also became the four-eyed book worm of my third grade class.
To this day, I can still recall what it felt like to read those Harry Potter books for the first time, to experience the joys of reading for the first time. I remember being face-to-face with Voldemort and experiencing a sort of terror I had never known. I remember cheering on Harry, Ron, and Hermione, feeling as though I was right next to them during their many struggles against You-Know-Who. I remember crying my eyes out along with the other characters when Dumbledore died. I remember the excitement I felt during each painful wait that came between finishing a book and getting my hands on the next one. As an eight-year old child, reading allowed me to experience a kaleidoscope of emotions that I never would have been able to experience in my actual life.
Books can do that to people. They have the unique capability of drawing willing readers into an addicting emotional whirlwind. I read when I am upset, so I can forget my own sadness and perhaps wallow in a fictional character’s misery instead. I read when I am happy, in hopes of indulging myself with beautiful language that can possibly brighten my day a bit more. I read when I am lonely because I can always find a friend in a made-up character.
No matter what I read, the simple act of reading itself never fails to let me experience and feel something different, to lose myself and my own emotions in a fictional world. Each time I open a new book, I can’t help but feel like an eight year old girl again, about to enter a fantastic world of reading that I had never known existed.