As an editor and a journalist, I get one question a lot: which are the books that shaped you? Well, that is not an easy question. Certainly, my answer is far from traditional.
My very first memory with a book goes back to when I was four and my sister wanted me to learn to read. My sister is very stubborn till this day so, obviously, she succeeded. Though it was many years ago, I remember being stunned by this new world I didn’t know. Possibly, the illustrations that first taught me Spanish will persevere until the day I die.
A couple of years later a close friend of mine gave me my first audiobook recorded by a famous actress. I was truly fascinated by this new technology. I remember playing it over and over again while I turned over the pages. So, you could say that my first encounters with books weren’t just about the books themselves but about colours, special sounds and paraphernalia.
By that time, my family wanted to encourage me to read books but made a false step: they decided to give me one about a girl called “Lu” like me because they thought it would work as a personalized gift. But you never know when it comes to kids: I was so embarrassed by the fact that the girl from the book was irreversibly lame that I asked them not to give me any more books as presents.
Later on, at elementary school, my teacher told us to read a book often defined as essential: The little prince. Though she insisted on how those stories would guide me through my entire life, I could only empathize with only one: rituals are necessary. Meanwhile, I was fascinated by the stories that my aunt made me read from Horacio Quiroga or the classic book The Metamorphosis from Kafka. Maybe, I was starting to perceive and admire all the twists and poetic resources the writers used in order to write a tale and I was shocked by these new styles full of drama and psychological content.
Unfortunately, I didn’t go far from the books that I was given (my school provided as many as six books per year), so as time went by I started to feel this emptiness or debt since there were too many stories to read and I couldn’t embrace this whole world. In that scenario, what did I do? I practically froze. For years, I couldn’t find my way back to books and, definitely, I couldn’t read for fun. Even when I became a journalist, my most snobbish colleagues were proud to say that they were more lectured or cultured than me and I had to make an effort to excuse myself, as if I had failed as a professional woman and ruined my plans of becoming the person that I wanted to be.
So, when I started studying to become an editor I said: enough is enough. I held my breath, got myself into a book store and asked the owner for books. Naturally, considering my little literature knowledge, he recommended some French novels and I bought them with no second thoughts: it was, ultimately, a good point to start. And I wasn’t wrong. Since I began reading again, I had something to say when anyone asked: what are you reading nowadays? And just like that, I could learn from their experiences. Due to that road, my list of pending books got longer and longer.
Paradise finally came when I got my ebook and this endless world I first recognised when I was a little girl became an actual possibility. I read all of those awarded books I probably should have read earlier, flirted with American sentimental traditional novels while teasing with melancholic European dramas and sleeping with Argentine classics. My gnarled route went from A to Z with no in-betweens.
Eventually I got more interested in Japanese novels and I found sites that recommended books that I actually enjoyed reading so I managed to soften (if not erase) the pain accumulated for years of not feeling like I was good enough.
Going back to the main question: till this date I cannot make a final statement about my favourite authors, the books that shaped me or the most amazing stories I’ve ever read. And honestly, I don’t have to. Paths with books can be irregular, but they sure do find a way to keep moving forward.