All my life, I have been known to be a reader. It has been engraved as part of my identity. As cliche as it sounded, books always made everything better for me. Yet, it must have been a time, where I touched a certain book, read a certain story and my life completely changed.
My big sister loved to read. She had tons of thick books I used to adore from afar, and she acted just like a grown up girl. I used to stare at her library in awe, entranced by the book spines stacked near each other, in perfect vertical lines, in perfect union.
I used to stare at her library in awe, entranced by the book spines stacked near each other, in perfect vertical lines, in perfect union.
I had seen that book a couple of times, but it had not interested me. It was not as glamorous and as thick as the second volume, which my sister used to carry around her all the time. I wanted to read that second volume. But my lack of Albanian language wouldn’t let me get through the first page.
I was known for not being able to talk well, to pronounce the right vowels. It took me a while to be able to roll my r-s. My sister was my translator for the whole family. I never noticed the first volume of the Russian Tales nicely stacked at the bookshelf. The book was old, pages ripped by the dog ears, the spine was in its’ way to be destroyed, the cover an ugly brown color, and a simple image of a couple.
The book was old, pages ripped by the dog ears, the spine was in its’ way to be destroyed, the cover an ugly brown color, and a simple image of a couple.
I didn’t like that book. I liked the second one, with bright orange, it looked all new and it had more than 400 pages. That was my kind of book.
But it wasn’t, because for some reason I never read the second volume. I only started reading the first, to practice my Albanian, so that I could read the second one. But I was wrong. The book wasn’t pretty, but the stories inside were the most beautiful I had ever read. This rich folklore from another country made my imagination run wild, developed my reading skills, made me read the book in a couple of days, always wanting to turn to the next page, in anticipation I had never felt before. And I found myself staying up until late. One more tale, one more page. I found myself daydreaming and thinking of ways to create new tales, trying to find new books that could fill the void inside me, in the same way that book had. I felt love, and happiness, heartbreak, melancholy, despair, hate, despise. I laughed and I cried, because I was so young, and that book was everything for me.
I wanted to relive that feeling, the feeling of discovering something new.
I wanted to relive that feeling, the feeling of discovering something new. I loved that book, I loved its cracks, its ripped pages, its’ destroyed book spine, its’ brown color and even the picture. That was my book. It was mine, because everyone else had forgotten about it. I used to read it before going to bed. I would open it in a random page, and read what I had already memorized. I knew every word, every period, every comma of that book.
I never read the second volume. For some reason, it just disappeared from our little library and we never found it. I wasn’t meant to read that book. Year later, I figured why I became obsessed with the first volume. Years later, I found myself just like the old book I used to read, just as used, beaten up, on my way to be destroyed. The lines on the spine were similar to the lines on my arm, surgery after surgery. The ripped pages of the book were similar to the ripped muscles of my arm. Flaky skin, and bald head, torn and ripped apart. Yet, I could tell you stories, stories that you crave, stories that can entrance you, wanting to know more. That’s my magic, that’s all I got.
That’s my magic, that’s all I got.
And on the nights that I am sleepless, insecure about the future, haunted from my past, I remember the reoccurring phrase I read there, “Sleep, the day knows more than the night.”
What about you? Which book made you a reader?