On how I got hooked on words and books.
My earliest memories about reading go way back to the time when I wasn’t able to read yet and I had been read to. From that time I don’t remember the stories, but I do remember the dim light of the night-light that softened and partly hid the objects in the room, they seemed like shady puppets, and the feeling of gentleness and warmth in the voice of the one who was loudly reading just for me. I remember how I comfortably placed myself under my reader’s shoulder, squeezing my favorite plush mouse, and waiting silently in anticipation of the new story, waiting for the door to open into the new, imaginative world.
I have been a curious girl with a fairly realistic view of the world, so when the story started, I began asking questions to which the story did not give me the answers. Everything just because I wanted to put myself into the literary heroes shoes, to adopt their characteristics and what they are doing. I was fortunate enough to have two scholars at home – my grandfather and my grandmother, who recognized this endless curiosity of mine and thought me how to read even before I went to school. Maybe it wasn’t that good as it sounds, because suddenly no one else had time or wanted to read me anymore, because they’ve told me that I can read myself. This was an end of the evening reads with cuddle and coziness – I have just gotten a short, but warm embrace, a kiss and a book in my hands.
School library – my sanctuary
It was my mother, who is also a passionate reader, who imparted me my love for reading. I do not remember a single day from my childhood that I had spent without a book in my hands. Once I started to go to elementary school, I got the keys to my new sanctuary. I was not impressed by the school, but to the school’s library. It was a place where I felt safe – safe from the unjustified and excessive demands of the outside world. There was always a pleasant smell, the books were my friends and the librarian the main priestess of the sanctuary, who always managed to find a great book for me. By the sixth grade, I’ve read almost all books in the school’s library, even those intended for older students, and even though I regularly trained swimming twice a day. Fortunately, I did my schoolwork with ease, so I spent all my free time with books. When there were no more books for me in the school’s library, I attacked my home’s library. I remember that at that time I was particularly enchanted by the rainbow colored covers of the collection of detective stories of Agathe Christie. I was both – Hercule Poirot and Mrs. Marple, and I was always a step ahead of them. Today, these novels seem like a fairy tale for good night, but back then I’ve tried to visualize every detail of the story. I was not visualising only the blood and technical details of murders, but also clothing, furniture, relationships between men and women at the time. It was as if I had been playing in a movie. And when I watched the TV series based on the Agatha Christie’s novels so many years later, I have just laughed – it was like in my literary adolescent illusions.
Overcoming highschool reading anorexia
Upon entering the high school, I’ve stopped reading so intensively. I’ve read a book or two on which my mother convinced me that I will enjoy the story. This reading anorexia lasted somewhere to the end of the faculty. With a completed diploma in my pocket I recovered the reading anorexia over night and matured. I was no longer interested in stories, but I’ve tried to taste the language that told me the story. Sometimes, I’ve tried to read a sentence, which I found particularly interesting, aloud. I felt the words resounding in space, which made it feel like the furniture and other things in the room were mixed with my inner life. I do not remember what the excerpts that I’ve read aloud were talking about. But I do remember, however, that it was usually the intimate thoughts of a person who suffered from feelings such as fear or jealousy or cowardice, feelings that are hard to admit aloud to anyone. But the honesty of the writer, his ability to capture such fluid and vague feelings, is in itself a brave and generous act. I also remember how I was astounded by the way words can be precise and patient in descriptions, which only confirmed what I already knew: that there is a tragic and masterly distance between human consciousness and the real world.
Person who reads, lives a thousand lives
I realize that the experience of reading in the early years is one of the experiences that enriches all man’s life. And once you step on a train that runs between booklets, you can no longer step of it. They do not say in vain that the person who reads, lives a thousand lives, but a person who doesn’t, only one.
Two years ago when I took the sabbatical for half of the year I again received their call. I began to write a literary blog Literarna lekarna (in english Literary drugstore), where I publish my impressions of the books I’ve read. Like I would write literary prescriptions. And then I also began to believe that stories – no matter what they are – they exist to heal us, our souls and bodies. You know what they say: for every disease, there’s a flower growing. Well, I say that for every disease someone has written a healing book. It’s up to you to find it and heal yourself. I believe that the book finds you exactly at the moment when you need it the most, or jerks you in your ass, still another brings you inner peace and reconciliation with yourself, the third one gives you energy and wakes up your readiness for action. But in each book hides at least a spark of that perceptible human wisdom that opens our horizons and spirits.
For good-night sleep
Even today, when I read to my children, I realise that reading is the best therapy which on one hand strengthens our imagination and self-esteem, and on the other takes us to well deserved good night’s sleep. The moments that are just ours when we – twisted and curled together, and lying down under a blanket red a story, with his head resting on my shoulder or abdomen, with the words coming from my mouth in the mumbling tone, the words that hit both of us. Instead of spending the holidays in some luxury places, we are going on a journey with an airplane or a luxury train that flies between the first and the last cover. We are seeing all the sights, talking to the animals, hiking across the mountains and swimming with the crocodiles. Stories speak about our feelings and emotions, about accepting ourselves, about building relationships. When my son listens to the vibrations of my body, which are caused by my mumbling sounds, he calms down. But at the same time he tastes the floating words – he connects their meanings with his personal experience, he listens to their sounds, he invents new words, rhymes, and builds his imaginary world in his mind, when he slowly drifts into the dream world.
At that moment I feel truly empowered: I am able to feed my child with words, when he digs into his dream world with grateful attention.