I moved to the United States when I was five years old. I didn’t speak any English however, determined to understand this fascinating new language, I sat in front of the TV for hours watching Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and Reading Rainbow.
I glued to the screen like velcro. It’s because of these television shows that I learned how to speak English and why I love to read. I love to read when I am on traveling.
I Love to Read
As a child, I created stories either solo or with the aid of my cousin, D. We drew the pictures to match the stories. I recall writing furiously; page after page. I wrote many short stories and unfinished masterpieces.
As a child, I love to read a lot of books! I devoured them. I spent many years reading in the library while skipping out on lunch. Checking books out, including loving on them. I begged my aunts for money when there were book fairs at school.
I urged my family to subscribe to the National Scholastic, furthermore I requested subscriptions to encyclopedias. My love affair with knowledge and words were present before I recognized meanings in a different tongue.
Books allowed me to travel to places
Books were dreams that I slipped quickly in and quickly out. I visited any world that I desired by simply opening a book and turning the page. The options were limitless. In fact, growing up my surroundings were unpredictable and hostile.
The inside of the walls of my home was as quiet as a convent. Books allowed me to travel to places in which harmful acts didn’t exist. And if they did, I wasn’t the main character. It allowed my imagination to bear open its arms and hug me gently.
I fell in love with poetry because of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. As I write this post, nostalgia floods through me like a mug of warm hot chocolate on a cold night. I can’t remember all of the books that I have read. However, the slideshow below showcases many of my favorites.
I ripped through classic novels such as Moby Dick, 1984, The Catcher and the Rye, The Scarlet Letter, Tom Sawyer and Of Mice and Men. Devoured poetry by Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Maya Angelou.
I grew to enjoy Toni Morrison as a great literary author while simultaneously I absorbed theater pieces such as A Streetcar Named Desire, Oedipus, Julius Cesar, A Raisin in the Sun, Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Hamlet, and Macbeth.
Musicals were a gem. The very first musical that I watched was in the third grade. Mrs. Hayes who was my favorite teacher at the time played it in class, and I loved it. The musical was called Bye Bye Birdie.
I’ve enjoyed other classics such as The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Top Hat, West Side Story, Swing Time, Mary Poppins, and Singing in the Rain. In middle school, there were auditions for Grease, which is my favorite musical. The desire to audition for the musical was deep, but I didn’t audition.
I sat in the audience witnessing my classmates audition for the parts. The school I attended was a semi-segregated school in which I was consistently the only Black child in the classroom. Moreover, there weren’t many children that looked like me in the schools that I attended.
Furthermore, the ones that did look similar didn’t seem interested in activities like musicals. As a result, I didn’t share my love for books with many people. A secret that I protected as quietly as a political scandal. I didn’t get the chance to find out if any of my peers were doing the same thing.
There’s this regret that lingers wondering why I didn’t attend more plays and musicals. Even as an adult, not many people in my network appreciated or liked musicals. I had every excuse in the book not to attend more plays and musicals.
The excuses ranged from not having anyone to go with, not having the money or not having the time. If I could do that part over again, I would attend every last classical play and musical alone.
The play that I attended was A Streetcar Names Desire and Jersey Boys. Both were amazing.
After graduating from graduate school in 2011, I stopped reading. Graduate school seemed to murder my love for books. Many of the books that I read in school although fascinating overloaded my brain. It was lots of technical writing with zero creativity.
The amount of required reading was astronomical. After graduation, I took a mental hiatus. Novels were nonexistent in my life for at least two years. The writing also stopped. My creative spirit shriveled up like a dried raisin. Life got busy as a result writing took a back seat. Virtually: creative suicide.
In 2013, I slowly began to read again. I devoured many self-help books the way a homeless man ravages for food in a dumpster. At that point in my life, my energy directed me towards books that were to heal my spirit and my mind.
My first self-help books were The Secret and Think and Grow Rich. My soul craved rekindling. I strictly read non-fiction books. Therefore, I had a hard time finding captivating fiction books.
Until I came across a booked called, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I read this year.
S found this book on one of the bookshelves of the resort that she was staying. She tore through it like a tornado. She kept insisting, “You have got to read this book!” From staying at a few hostels and resorts, we concluded that hostels and resorts have incredible book collections.
All of which are left by their owners either intentionally or by accident. On one occasion I left one of my books at a restaurant in one of the resorts. I found it snuggled against the other books on the bookshelf. This book is an incredible read.
It’s phenomenal writing. I haven’t finished it yet, but I am half way through. It’s a story about a love affair, race, and politics. The main character Ifemelu, leaves Nigeria to study in the United States, but later returns to her homeland. Upon her arrival, she begins to face many challenges. I plan on reading more books by Adichie.
I must admit, there are times I prefer books over being around a group of people, especially if I am in the middle of a great book. While in other people’s presence, my mind drifts and wanders.
All I can think about is escaping to my home. The way one yearns to return to one’s mistress. Traveling while living abroad has reconnected me to my passions for books and reading. With no particular end game but for the love of it. For that I am grateful.
What are some of your favorite books? Share and comment below!