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By Johannes Helmold
It is strange to think that now I am a writer and an editor. Writing was my worst subject in elementary school, and even in high school (though mathematics was a solid rival). How did I get out of that deficiency? By reading tons of books. But what prompted this fascination with books in a kid who was the dope of his English class? It boils down to my family environment, resilience, and passion for the written word.
I was born into a literary family, luckily. My father was a writer who was the editor of a creative writing journal. He surrounded himself with books of all kinds, and was constantly reading this or that book, journal, magazine, and more. My grandfather had a library of his own, with countless books on history, science, and other academic disciplines. He even had a basement room full of books on Greek and Roman history and literature, as he was extremely fond of this subject. My mother and all of her four sisters always had a book in their hands, and still do. So, even though I struggled with speaking, writing, and reading, I eventually crossed this obstacle through this major familial influence. From an early age, I wanted to read as many books as I could. This was done in part because of my father’s idea of giving a prize to whoever reads the most pages in a month between my twin brother and I. As I am a competitive person, I usually did my best to win the monthly prize. Besides this, being surrounded by books at all times was an obvious prompt for my reading addiction. In fact, my grandfather, when I visited him in Chicago, would say to me, “Take whatever book you like and bring it back to Seattle.” This inspired me to be passionate about books even more.
I have always believed in making weaknesses strengths. Therefore, when I saw myself suffering under the weight of speaking deficiencies and writing problems, I decided I would tackle the conundrum head on. I got a speech therapist, read more and more books, and started doing creative writing in my spare time. Eventually, starting from being the worst in the class, I became consistently the best in my class in college. Yes, I had to struggle through my elementary, middle, and high school years; but in college, I became a star writing and English student. One writing teacher of mine even stated that she believed I would be a famous writer. I think the real turn was in my sophomore year of high school, when I realized I did not like any other subject besides writing and literature. All other classes seemed like robot work: you had to memorize dates, data, and other material in order to pass tests. In writing and English classes, you needed to be efficient at expressing yourself and your ideas. I did not see any other career for myself in the future than being a writer, or someone that does something with writing. Despite my parents’ disapproval of this path, I stuck by my passion and went to college to eventually graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Writing and Literature, later earning a post-baccalaureate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language as well. Reading tons of books from an early age helped me become the writer I wanted to be.
I think the main reason people should read books is that they have a passion for the written word. There is no better way to learn and to engage into something than when you have enthusiasm for it. Not only is learning faster and more efficient through passionate studying, but your motivation to learn is heightened. If you enjoy reading books and other literary activities, then go for it. There should not be a second thought in your mind to obstruct you from enjoying a good book. Reading through a novel, or pondering poetry, is one of the most pleasurable activities human life can offer. So, why not take advantage of it?
In my personal experience, people should read books to overcome hurdles in their education, to conquer weaknesses, and for the passion of reading. These three reasons are highly personal, but I think it can relate to many people who struggle with English and writing.
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