I recently read a post from a blogger named Bookish Rita titled “How time and place have affected my reading experiences” and since it was so fantastically awesome, I felt inspired to write a post of the same nature. It’s no secret that I’ve read a lot of books. Some of those books take me back to certain moments of my life just by looking at their spine. Here are a few of my stories in order as they occurred…
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling–
I was almost 16 when I picked up this massive book to read. It was the beginning of August and my birthday is at the end of August. I’d had an early birthday party with a few friends. We’d spent the evening at a local church carnival and then had a sleep over which included lots of snacks, movies, and dancing late into the night amidst the flashing strobe light bought at 5 Below. Earlier in the day, my mother had given me my first cell phone. It was a silver flip phone under the Track Phone plan and I adored it. This was 2006, before the iPhone had unveiled and led the world into a new technological age. This all led up to the following day when my father, brother, and I went to the Pocono’s with my Grandmom and her friend Peggy. I brought the fifth Potter book with me, anxious to begin reading. The weather in the mountains was cool and inviting if you forget the bugs. When I wasn’t playing with my new phone, I was reading. I became engrossed in this book. I can recall sitting in the car with the windows down, listening to the crickets chirping as the sun set and my brother and dad played tennis on local courts, the sun casting a pink and blue hue over the landscape. I would read in the living area and my Grandmom would whisper loudly to her friend that I was a big reader. I smiled. This book always reminds me of simple times spent with family. It marks the first time I truly fell in love with a Potter book. It harks back to this feeling I rarely have which is not wanting to put a book down.
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The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket —
I don’t remember anything from this book. What I do remember is reading it when I was in my sophomore year of high school. In Pennsylvania, we had a series of tests called the PSSA’s when I was growing up (that still exist today). They were formed out of the No Child Left Behind Act (I believe, don’t quote me there) and we had to take them in 5th grade, 8th grade, and 11th grade. In grades 4, 7, and 10 we prepared for the tests but taking test PSSA’s and learning how to prepare for these tests that were based off of nothing we actually learned in school. In 10th grade, we took a science PSSA. This was unusual since the PSSA was usually based on English Language Arts and Math. All of us students were complaining, a usual occurrence, and soon quiet came over the library where we sat as we opened our packets to discover the ridiculous test put before us. The Science PSSA was about a handful of topics, none of which I had ever learned about in school. What I can remember is questions about agriculture, something we’d talked about in History lessons but never studied in Science. As I shut the test, worry hammered on my soul as I feared my test results would be poor and I would be held back from the 11th grade. Of course my worry did not extend too far as when I finished the test early, I pulled out this book to read. I always had a book with me to read after I finished taking a test.
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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott —
It was a cloudy day during the summer of 2007 when my brother and I got into a huge argument. These arguments were not few and far between. My brother and I argued everyday over his loud shenanigans versus my desire for peace to read and write. We were always at each other’s throats. My patience had simmered considerably and finally I could not take it. I grabbed my phone and the library copy of Little Women I had recently checked out and stormed off into the garage where I found my bike. I set the phone and book into the attached basket at the front of my bike and road up the hill toward the main stretch of sidewalk that led to the middle school behind our house. It was being renovated. The parking lot was covered in dry earth patches and a brand new brick wall. I parked my bike and sat on the black top with my back against the wall. Construction was going on behind me at the other side of the school so I was thankfully alone. I opened my book and tried to focus on the words on the page before me. My cell phone rang and I looked to see it was from my brother. I ignored his call and continued reading. I don’t remember what passage I read, but I distinctly recall this day and the gray clouds that hovered above me. It was not long before it started to lightly drizzle and I returned home though I don’t recall the events after.
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Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer —
I grew up in the suburbs. Whenever we had to go somewhere, we drove. Public transportation was for people without a car, a luxury I never missed out on. When I went off to college and started to live more independently and discover more of the world outside of the suburban bubble, one of the things I ended up taking was public transportation. I’d always wanted to take the bus to the library when I was still in high school. I got my license later in life so being that I didn’t drive and the library was 20 minutes away, it seemed like a good idea. The bus would have dropped me off right at the library parking lot. But I never took the bus as I always was afraid I would catch the wrong one or not have the correct amount of money or any other excuse I could come up with to keep from trying new things. In college I was forced to take public transportation sometimes to go home on the weekends. I would catch the bus early Friday morning and it would drive me to a mall halfway from home where my mom or grandma would meet me and drive me the rest of the way. On these bus rides, I remember bringing this book. I read the book in late September so it was one of the earliest rides on the bus. The weather was still warm outside with a slight chill of Autumn. I remember being on the bus, reading about this guy taking control of his life and traveling around the United States and it felt as if his independence was rubbing off on me. At that moment, I felt like I was a changed person. I sat surrounded by other bus riders, all of whom had their own lives and their own worries and their own problems. Some sat quietly with their phones or listened to their music. Others looked out the window as the bright morning sun glared in at us. It is hard to explain but it was at that moment when I first truly felt like an independent person and that I had control over my life outside of my parents.
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My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult —
I was in college when I picked up my first Jodi Picoult book. She was a hot author at the time. Everywhere I went I would see her books stacked on shelves. My friend lent me her copy of this book, a paperback with the movie poster cover as the movie had recently been out in theaters. I had not been enjoying the book all that much. To be truthful, I was a bit hesitant to even read the book. But it kept me interested and I was genuinely looking forward to see where the book was taking me. It isn’t often that a book moves me to tears. Up until this point in my life, I had only welled up at a book and that was the final Potter novel. I finished this book at home. It was the weekend and I was sitting in the family computer chair secluded from everyone else. When I arrived at the book’s conclusion, I cried. I was left in such shock by the ending that tears ran down my cheeks. I forgot I was reading a book until my mom came to the steps overlooking where I sat and asked what I was doing.
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A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin —
It is rather funny to say that I have read 4 out of 5 A Song of Ice and Fire books on vacations, but it is true. I read the first book in 2012 on a cruise to Bermuda. I remember reading it in the small library on the boat and finishing it in the small cabin my family vacated. To this day I associate the book with summer and that vacation of snorkeling and fine dining. Just looking at the book gives me a feeling of nostalgia. I read A Clash of Kings visiting Ocean City, Maryland in the summer of 2013. A friend of the family owns a condo there and lets us stay for a cheap price. I love that condo and my fondest memories involve reading on the porch that overlooks the ocean. I started reading this book at the beginning of that vacation and I still recall laying in bed and reading the first chapter. Shortly after in November, I went to Disney World with my mom and Grandma and brought the third ASoIaF book with me. I didn’t read much on that vacation but quite a bit on the plane ride home. And finally, A Feast for Crows. I read this book during a trip to Hershey in the summer of 2014. My mother is a sucker for outlet shopping and so I have become a sucker for reading in the car while she shops. I have fond memories of basking in the July sun, the intense heat tanning my pale skin, and a light breeze making the day bearable as we took an hour long pit stop before heading over to the theme park.
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What books remind you of certain moments in your life? Tell me about them in the comments below or write a blog of your own and leave the link in a comment!