WHAT GOT ME STARTED INTO READING?
As a young person growing up in the 21st century, I didn't really see the appeal in reading. Sure, I went to school and I had to read textbooks for History, lab books for Biology, workbooks for Math, and novels for Literature, but I didn't understand why people read for fun. Why read the book when the blockbuster movie is coming out next summer? The ticket is probably cheaper than a book, and I only have to give up 2 hours of my day, instead of several hours or even... *gasp* several DAYS to reading one book! Madness!
It wasn't that I wasn't good at reading -- I was always pretty good at reading comprehension at school. I even read a few of the Harry Potter books, but that was it (and honestly, HARRY POTTER is probably the exception to everyone's I-don't-read rule). I just had so much going on between school, clubs, friends, TV... I didn't see where books would fit into that picture.
Then when I was 13, I moved to different country with my family. I didn't have any clubs and I didn't have any friends. Suddenly, my busy life had huge pockets of free time. That's when I started reading, as a way of interacting with "people" when people weren't really around. I didn't feel quite so lonely if I could go on adventures and meet new characters whenever I wanted. I started out with A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS by Lemony Snicket, which at the time seemed to be a metaphor for my parent's uprooting me from Jamaica and dumping me in America all by myself. I felt like I could really relate to the characters -- young kids around my age who were clever and funny. Cornelia Funke, J. D. Salinger, Louise Rennison, Judy Blume... I read books of different lengths and genres, but I think young adult might still be my favourite!
It was a little strange, because I assumed the only people who read books were old people like my mother in her mid-40s, and that the only kids who read were weird and antisocial. Except, I was reading books, but I definitely wasn't antisocial... I just hadn't made any new friends yet. And, I kid you not, the first friend I made in America was with a girl who saw me reading (ANNA KARENINA... I was a bright 13-yr old) and started giving me book recommendations, then rides home from school, and soon we were exchanging BFF birthday presents.
Almost seven years later, I'm even more of an avid reader. By now I've obviously settled in and found my rhythm in America, but I cannot tell you how often I still make acquaintances and friendships with new people through a shared love of books. (Actually, I became friends with Aly -- who runs this blog -- through our mutual love of YA fiction!) I definitely find that reading gives me a few hours, or even a few minutes, in the day to relax and be by myself, which as I get older, I'm realizing more and more "me time" to keep myself sane (: Plus, your parents and teachers weren't lying when they said reading makes you smarter. I think it's something to do with learning new vocabulary and sharpening your mental skills.
Oh, and to anyone who thinks that reading is only for people with no friends and don't like to have a good time: you've obviously never been to a HARRY POTTER midnight release party!