A room without books is like a body without a soul

There is a picture of Yours Truly sitting in my late grandparents’ garden, an open book on my lap, a small pile of books next to me. I was still in kindergarten back then, but already fascinated by books. Thing is, when I was a little kid, I was living with my grandparents for two years, and since my grandparents lived in a different part of my hometown than my parents did as well as where the kindergarten I went to was located, I learned from an early age on how to occupy myself in one way or another. What’s a girl supposed to do when you don’t really have friends because of your living circumstances?

At some point, I would not only look at the pictures in the books anymore, but I wanted to know what those little letters there SAID. As most kids, I knew a couple of letters already, because you know how proud a little child is when it can hand their parents a sheet of paper with “Mom” or “Dad” written on. Now, I also learned various other letters bit by bit and with the help of some kind of stencil that came with the whole alphabet in capital and lower case letters. Bit by bit, those black lines on the pages made sense and before everyone knew it, I could read. Fluently.

I could read complex (for a child, anyway) texts and understand them before I had my first ever day of elementary school. So while my classmates had to learn how to read from scratch, I was a bit bored and thus allowed to read other stuff. Of course, that made me some kind of outsider, even more so since I’d rather learn about the solar system, animals and plants than the latest Barbie stuff. That was just not my cup of tea.

Fast forward to many years later …

Reading was so much more than just a way to kill time. It was basically my favorite thing ever. German novels as well as English (and translated into German). It was just … MINE. No matter where I went, I ALWAYS would carry a book with me, as I can read pretty much everywhere, with the exception of car and bus.

Getting lost in a good book is especially a welcome escape from the world these days. Reading has helped to divert my mind from a lot, and still does. Although I sometimes cannot keep the attention up for a longer period of time, but that just …happens. Right? One of my favorite places to read a book is my bath tub. Sinking into that hot bubble bath and reading a nice book is just lovely. Soothing, even. (Well, okay, you probably shouldn’t read “IT” by Stephen King while in the bath tub, iykwim.)

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that I have collected a ton of books in the course of the years, and NO, I don’t have too many! I just don’t have enough time to read them all! I will read pretty much anything that tickles the fancy, from fantasy to thriller to non-fiction such as (auto-)biographies. As long as there is some kind of interest in one way or another, that book is likely to find a home with me. 🙂 (Yes, I am this old fashioned madame who refuses to invest in an e-Reader. I need the feeling of holding an actual book in my hands, the rustling of the pages when I turn them, and of course the smell of a book. Go away with your electronic gadgets! 😉 )

When I was done with school, I thus also enrolled at university to study British and American Literature, having an entirely different plan in mind with that combination, but at some point, said plan fell through … but I continued my studies regardless, as I WANTED that degree. After all, I had already spent some money (and time!) on this, so I stuck around and got said degree, even if it was a bumpy ride. Including taking that final semester off and postpone my graduation for another six months to get back on track, as I had some mental health issues back then.

Fun fact:
I once duped my AmLit professor by asking him if F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” had somehow influenced John Irving and his book “The Hotel New Hampshire” (to this day, one of my faves EVER!) as they have a very similar quote towards the very end of the respective book. Prof said he didn’t know, but it could be an interesting topic for further research.
The quotes:
Hotel New Hampshire:
But this is what we do – we dream on, and our dreams escape us almost as vividly as we can imagine them. That’s what happens, like it or not. And because that’s what happens, this is what we need: we need a good, smart bear.

Great Gatsby:
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter (…) So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

/fun fact

Now, what on Earth does Paddington Bear have to do with this, you wonder? When I hit rock bottom in 2010, reading became difficult for me, as I just couldn’t keep my attention up long enough to read more than a fistful of pages, and even if, I had no idea anymore about what I had just read. No matter how good the book, or how much of an “easy” read. But Paddington? Well, first of all, I love that clumsy, adventurous little bear from darkest Peru, but never really had gotten around to read the books. They came in perfectly when I was in the clinic back then. Reading a couple of short Paddington Bear stories before going to sleep was fun. It also helped me getting my concentration and focus back, which ultimately cannot be a bad thing! Also, Paddington’s adventures made me chuckle which was also something good for the soul.

I had found the little stuffed Paddington Bear here in Berlin in a bookstore, he came with a little cardboard suitcase and all, and after I had moved last year, I finally realized the idea to put the stuffed bear next to the books. It’s also something so typcially Yours Truly: teddy bears and books. A “beary” nice combination!
So yeah, a little bear helped me keep up my attention again, and even if the books may aim at an audience of the younger spectrum, I don’t think you can quite possibly ever be too old for Paddington and his adventures! This world is harsh and mean enough already, so something light-hearted every once and a while sure is much, much needed!

I just love reading a book in which I can get entirely lost in. Or something that grabs me in a way that it is hard to put the book down again. Page turners. One of those books that blew me away recently was Hanya Yanagihara’s “A Little Life”. I do not want to give away too much about it, let alone write a whole damn review about it – that’s what the book bloggers are there for -, but … WOW. I had come across it accidentally, was just browsing the bookstore round here, and somehow, that book ended up in my hands, and, ultimately, my shelf. Granted, it’s not for the faint hearted at times, as some parts in there are a bit, uh, graphic. But.

It’s one of those books – even if it has a good 700 pages to plough through – that suck you in, spin you around, turn you inside out and spit you out again and when you’ve finished reading those last couple of lines, you’re left stunned. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do with my life when I had finished reading “A Little Life”. But not only does this book come with a gripping story, it also has some moments in there where you’re just like, “Where have you been all my life, huh?”

I will conclude this novel right here with my favorite quote from “A Little Life” because it’s some kind of WISDOM and totally spot on:

“I might say that this whole incident is a metaphor for life in general: things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”

 

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