I was maybe 8 or 9 and I still remember getting a book from my mom’s best friend. I hated the book and didn’t want to read it. There were so many words, so many pages and less pictures. In elementary school I always had an A in reading, so my not wanting to read was not about my ability to read but rather about my lack of enthusiam. Crazy, I know, especially because I love reading these days and can’t picture my life without it. I guess it was just a phase or the wrong book and/or the wrong genre for me.
However, during 5th/6th grade I discovered reading books for me. I was totally obsessed with the “Freche Mädchen – Freche Bücher“ books (~”Sassy Girls – Sassy Books”). The books were aimed at girls in their tweens or early teens. The stories were about a bunch of girlfriends who had to deal with school, parents, clothes, boys, first love and the following first heartbreak. The great thing was that the books were not written from one author alone but from many. The “Freche Mädchen – Freche Bücher” theme was only the name of the series in general. Every author then wrote their own sub-series with their own characters and stories. My goal was to own every single one of the books, there was even a tick-list at the end of each book. And since I’ve always been someone who loved lists and tick things off a list, I did just that: I ticked off the books I already had and marked the ones I wanted next. But owning and buying all of them turned out to be more difficult than expected. To this day I only have about 15, but there are over 100 available.
Did you know that some authors even published a few books in English?
Around the same time or maybe one or two years later, mom and I went up the attic to look for some stuff. I don’t know what mom and I were looking for but we definitely found some old books of her and her sister. I was excited to see what books mom read when she was younger. My interest was definitely piqued when I discovered an entire series about a girl named Pucki. The series consisted of twelve books in total and I as a reader followed her on all kinds of adventures during various stages of her life: kindergarten, school, her first job as a kindergarten school teacher, her falling in love, marrying the guy and getting three kids. The last book ends with her being about 38 and looking back on her blessed life. I’m pretty sure I read the series about four or five times in my teens because I loved it so much!
As I got older my interests changed and although I still read the Pucki series as often as I could, I stopped reading the “Freche Mädchen – Freche Bücher” books.
Since I watched a lot of TV as a teen, there was no avoiding the animes on German TV. Yes, I watched animes and I loved it. ♥ My favorite is definitely Sailor Moon. But besides watching animes, I read mangas as well. Back in the day, one manga was only €5.00 and everytime I went shopping with mom, I went to the bookstore and bought a new one – when I was rebellious I even bought two. 😀 I started off with the Detective Conan series (I loved both the anime and the manga) but changed the genre in the course of time. I quickly fell in love with the mangaka Arina Tanemura, her stories and their characters. I loved her so much, I even bought my favorite series (Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne) in Japanese, although I can’t read, speak or even understand Japanese. 😀 To this day I probably own about 73 mangas.
Besides reading mangas at that time, I also read every single German book there was of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The twins have always been a part of the US media but they only got popular in Germany in 2003/2004. I was totally obsessed with them and besides reading all their books, I bought every DVD and evry teen magazine that included stories, posters or even the tiniest pictures. There were even magazines solely dedicated to them!
In 11th, 12th and 13th grade my fellow classmates and I were tortured with books by Friedrich Schiller, Theodor Fontane, Georg Büchner or Christa Wolf. I know that all those authors wrote classics that “everyone should have read” but as a 17/18-year-old you don’t see much sense in interpreting and analysing those old books. And honestly, I still don’t see much sense in it nowadays.
Although I had to read those books in an awful old German language, it didn’t stop me to read for fun. I started reading books by Rachel Gibson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips (all German translations) as well as the German authors Kerstin Gier and Anne Hertz. There were also a few Nicholas Sparks books and of course the Twilight saga. I mean, no one could avoid Twilight back then!
I read my first non school related English book in 2010. My favorite soccer player published his biography in only Spanish and English and since I only knew the latter (and German obviously), I bought it in English. And let me tell you, the English I learned in school (I started in 5th grade), didn’t prepare me at all for this book. I understood the basics and obviously the grammar but there were so many vocabularies I hadn’t heard of. I had to look them all up and it was so frustrating! But I didn’t give up and besides continuing with German books, I purchased more and more English ones.
Nowadays, I only read English books and the fact that I lived in the US for two years had a huge impact on that. Reading those books now is easy for me, it is just like reading a German book. Sometimes I still need to look up vocabularies, but that’s OK for me. I don’t expect to know all the words there are in the English language, heck, I don’t even know all the words in the German language. I still need to look up the occasional German foreign word and its meaning. 😉
I usually read ebooks on my kindle these days because they are cheaper than paperbacks. Although I prefer ebooks over paperbacks, I sometimes miss the paperbacks too, especially having the pretty covers on my shelves. This is why I try to squeeze a paperback into my reading schedule whenever it is possible for me and my student wallet.
I am glad that I found out about Colleen Hoover in 2014. Thanks to her I discovered so many great books and great authors (Micalea Smeltzer, Corinne Michaels, RS Grey etc.). Colleen Hoover also kind of “dragged me” into this awesome and lovely book community and I am so thankful to be a part of this. And having Ashley at my side to experience this and to share our love of books with you is the cherry on top.
Lots of bookish love,
I am curious about your History of Reading. I would love to hear from you in the comments.