Growing up as a single child, I was never really lonely, but I did have to spend a lot of time alone. While my mother, who had quit her job as a flight attendant to take care of me, was a constant companion, she often had her hands full with cooking, cleaning, and other essential household chores. She was delighted that I expressed a great love of reading, and would often take me to the local library, or the bookstore, if I couldn’t wait for a copy to become freely available. Reading was the easiest way to travel, to help me pretend to be someone else, and give me the opportunity to visit worlds and alternate universes that do not exist outside of the page.
On my sixth birthday, my grandmother mailed me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s, if you read the British version) Stone. I devoured it entirely. I had never encountered anything like it – magic wands, children battling an evil wizard, broomsticks that could fly, and potions? It was breathtakingly exciting. “That can’t be the end of it,” I moaned to my mom, and sure enough, we discovered that the next two books of what will become the seven-book Harry Potter saga were already out. I remember toting those books everywhere. By then, children all over the world had been swept up by the magical realm J.K. Rowling had created, and anxiously awaited the release of each new installment. I was fifteen when the last book came out. I was still wholeheartedly invested.
Harry Potter taught a whole generation about friendship. I think everyone wished they could be part of the golden trio – brave like Harry, intelligent and kind like Hermione, loyal and funny like Ron. As I get older, I’ve learnt that close friends are vitally important. I’m at my best when I’m supported by my friends. No single person can be an island. Whether fighting Voldemort (the villain in the Harry Potter series), or just facing up to everyday challenges, you have a better chance of winning if you have people that love you at your side.
Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came into my life in my early-teens. It was my first real introduction to satirical humor. I had never realized that comedy could come in the form of being quiet, dry and understated. That’s not to say that the premise of the story was any of those things – The planet Earth is blown up by nasty aliens called Vogons, who needed to build a hyperspace bypass. I empathized with the confused main character, Arthur Dent, one of the two humans that survive, as he travelled around the galaxy with a Marvin, the paranoid android, Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed president of the galaxy, and his friend Ford Prefect, an alien journalist who had thought that naming himself after a car would help him blend in on Earth. I loved how Science Fiction, despite being totally bizarre, made me consider my daily surroundings differently.
In the next part of this blog, I’ll talk about the progression of what I like to read and how it’s affected me.
Hi there! My name is Taina and I live in Boston, Massachusetts. I grew up in Singapore, which is a long way from where I am now. I went to college for writing, and I treasure the opportunity to tell my experiences through the written word. I love eating food from different cultures and going to live music concerts. Having grown up in a compact, dense city, I’ve always taken public transportation but I’ve begun driving for my work commute. I hope this will give me more reason to drive and explore the United States, and share more of my adventures with you.