or Why I Tell People My First Book Was Harry Potter, Even Though It Wasn’t.
(P.S. There’s a Giveaway at the end of this post).
In fifth grade – when I was around 10 years old – the teacher asked us to read a book with more than a hundred pages, so we could write a report afterwards. Our school at the moment was so new (they were still building classrooms when I enrolled!) that we didn’t have a library, and at that point I had not a single book at home. I told my dad that I need a book for school, ANY BOOK, with at least a hundred pages. He told me he would ask his coworker if he had one I could borrow.
Two days later he came home with a book titled The Last Opportunity: A Novel on Personal and Marital Improvement.
That was the book his coworker lent him. For a 10-year-old girl. Who had to write a report afterwards.
My dad looked kinda uncomfortable when he handed it to me, but said that his coworker really liked that book so maybe I could learn something from it.
I didn’t really think much of it at the moment, as the only thing that mattered to me was completing my assignment. I grabbed the ugly brown book (which looked exactly like the one in the picture) and started reading it.
And you know what? I loved it.
I had never read a long story or a book without pictures. My only approach to books were those fables that come in textbooks from grades 1 to 4-ish. And there I was, reading a marital improvement novel about a guy who wanted to divorce his wife. And enjoying it like crazy.
The details are blurry now, but I remember how vivid and colorful and emotional I found it. I also remember a chapter where the main guy was in jail and how I found it so exciting! I could imagine his cell and his outfit just from his descriptions. That book had no illustrations but it contained long detailed sentences that woke my imagination.
When I finished that book, I was truly another person. Not only did I learn a lot about loving and caring for my wife, but I discovered the fun and excitement of reading. I told my dad that I had loved the book and went on to write the cheesiest book report ever. (This report might have sparked my love for writing).
My dad told his coworker that I had loved the book and he let me keep it. He said the guy was really happy about someone else loving his book. I guess it actually saved his marriage or something.
I told my dad that I wanted to read another book someday. But living in a kinda poor neighborhood without libraries or book stores, his only choice to find a new book was the supermarket. Also, being 2001 and without a computer with internet access, he didn’t know how to find recommendations. So my dad went to the small book section of the supermarket and found a table with books from the same author I had read. Score!
He got home late one day with a new book for me, some contemporary novel about teenagers and unethical debauchery (totally ignoring the fact that I was ten). My mom was really proud that I was reading a second book just for pleasure. And my dad said that I had picked a really good habit and that he would buy me another book every time a finished one.
Poor dad. He didn’t expect me to finish my books in two days.
After some months of going through all the too-adult-for-me novels from that same author, my dad came home with exciting news. There was a new movie coming out about a boy wizard. He didn’t know the name, but heard a coworker say that the movie was based on a book and that the author had been so successful that she went from being poor to being rich.
The next time we went to the supermarket, my whole family looked through the shelves trying to find a book with a young wizard on the cover. My dad found it. It was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It looked like it was fun!
Of course, as you might know, I fell in love with Harry Potter. It started my journey through countless fantasy novels, where I found my real niche. And my love for it pushed me to keep borrowing books, devouring them and begging my dad to take me to the library downtown, even if we had to take two buses.
So, any time someone asks me how I got into reading and I don’t have time to tell them the long story about the accidental marital improvement book, I just say Harry Potter.
I’m really happy I got to share the story of my first book! I would love to read everyone’s story, let me know in the comments!
And if you’re here for the giveaway, here it is:
Some awesome bloggers decided to team up (and invited me) to share our book love in a blog post. And also donate a book we loved to put it in a raffle.
The winner of this giveaway will get all the books we selected: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Caraval, My Lady Jane, The Sun is Also a Star, and The Next Together.
(My contribution was My Lady Jane because I wanted to add some humor to the book bundle. And also didn’t dare giving away the first book I read).
Make sure to visit their blogs to read more inspiring stories about first books and the love for reading 😀
To enter the giveaway use the form below!