Confessions of a literary nerd
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 14:09
Books are etched into the core of my identity. Books have always been my closest company, with my pen and pad as my armor. Walking through the library with the comforting smell of old books always evokes excitement and fascination for me. This is a timely topic because the last week of September, libraries and bookstores will be graced with displays celebrating the 30th anniversary Banned Books Week.
Banned Books Week is an annual event that “celebrates the freedom to read” in opposition to censorship according to the American Library Association. As an English major and lifelong avid bibliophile, I have always adored reading.
Some controversial banned books were pivotal in shaping my identity: from classic books like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye to coming-of-age books like Are you There God, It’s Me Margaret and Perks of Being a Wallflower. These books opened my mind, transported me to other realms beyond my sheltered Mid-western existence. They also gave me a refuge, a safe place to slip away from fears and worries about the world.
Books allow us to explore, to question, to be entertained, to be challenged. They can be a bridge between the fantastical and surreal and normalcy, between the exotic and the mundane, between the philosophical and tangible. It is obvious that books are my passion and have shaped my life from an early age. Due to the haze of infantile amnesia, I do not remember what first drew my little toddler mind to books. I just knew I was hooked.
Home movies from me as a toddler show me nestled my nose in a book while sprawled out in my bright teal Little Mermaid tent. I would mutter jibberish in an attempt to translate the language I did not yet understand. My mom tells me I would often fall asleep amidst a sea of books.
Every night, my little sister and I snuggled close to my mom’s warmth with my sister’s yellow rubber duck blankie she called her “deet deet.” My mom would make the pages come alive, with her expressive narration and cast of characters. My mom taught us about the power of stories and imagination. I was in awe and wonder.
My miniature frustrated hands would grasp the pages of a book. I longed to comprehend the words, the sentences, the very nuances of language itself. I was determined. A few months later, my world was illuminated when I could finally read.
Possibilities were infinite! Things would have been vastly different if my book choices had been censored. I spent a lot of time during my formative years nestled in the musty, dim basement of the Bismarck public library. I would inevitably max out my allotment of books and beg my sister to check some out under her card.
Head erupting with imagination, I would fill my unicorn covered Lisa Frank diaries with bad poetry, moody musings and confessions of a juvenile spy. I planted a walkie-talkie in my little sister’s room when friends were over and use it as fodder for my journals. I also wandered around the yard clutching it to pick up secret frequencies and interfere. That is, until I had to abandon my spy aspirations in fear of getting in trouble.
Before I begin on my Harriet the Spy obsession, I just want to urge students to pick up a favorite book (even if it’s not controversial) for fun. Transport yourself to another era and enjoy your freedom to read.
Tessa is a senior majoring in English.