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This post on Reddit reminded me a lot about my own childhood.

One thing I always remember about my childhood are books.

I think the first book I’ve ever read or received was the first Pokemon book. I think it was a Christmas gift from one of my childhood friends and her family, and it came in a pack of two with the first and second books. I never got anymore books in the adventure, but I remember reading through those two books all the time, and making my parents buy me the Official Pokemon Handbook at my school’s book fair, and the next couple of handbooks. They’re probably responsible for my love of Pokemon even til now, and the reason I have a Pikachu 3DS and every game since the second generation. And they’re probably the reason I’ll still follow Nintendo. Pokemon has become a huge part of my identity and the catalyst for a lot of my experiences.

Books can have an amazing effect.

I read a lot when I was young. My sister was also a bookie, and I would sneak into her room to steal some books I wanted to read. I was too young to understand Stephen King, but I read Blindness by Jose Saramago way before I could actually understand its themes. I read lots of Robinson Crusoe, which is still one of my favourites. I used to rent out the book a ton from my school’s library. It was really worn out with a peeling back and thinning pages, but that’s the reason the name Daniel Defoe was ingrained in my memory for so long.

We went to an English school called Masters of English, and our teachers Rebecca and uh… Madena? (it’s been too long), made us read multiple books every semester, read out loud, discuss the themes, write essays. And it’s really their faults that me and my sister can speak English properly, and have still retained our love of books.

The same reason I love Pokemon is the same reason I love zombies. My favourite elementary teacher, who taught me in grades 4 and 5, but that I still try to keep in touch with even now that I’m in university, used to have the Max Brooks book, The Zombie Survival Guide, and I would read that book way too much. Max Brooks is basically one of the catalysts for the whole zombie genre in the last few years, alongside his World War Z. His work would lead to books like Day by Day Armageddon, or Feed, books I enjoy reading today, all influenced from that single book more than 10 y ears ago.

From my sister I also managed to steal reads of the Hobbit, which I’m pretty sure I wrote a book report on in grade 4 or 5. It was one of those creative projects that my favourite elementary teacher made us do, where we had to draw and write a book summary of sorts on a cube. I actually can’t believe I still remember details like that.

My sister and I also swapped Harry Potter. My sister was the luckier child and had ownership of the first few books. When we went to visit Hong Kong in around 2004, I very distinctly remember my sister buying a copy of The Order of the Phoenix. And I remember stealing the books slowly to read through the magic of J.K. Rowling. And even renting out the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them from the school libraries. I managed to buy the last book, The Deathly Hallows before she could, and gave it to her to finish our Harry Potter collection.

Luckily though, I got to introduce my sister to one of the biggest book series in recent memory. Or at least I tried. Back around 2006 or so, my cousin came to visit with her family from Hong Kong (and eventually stayed for many years). One day, we went around to Costco, and to this day I still love going to Costco’s short book section and looking for hidden gems like that fateful visit.

A cover had caught my eye that day, it was a large book, but it was bright gold and had a lion on its front. I read a couple lines and convinced my mom to buy it for me. That book was A Game of Thrones. I love saying this, but A Song of Ice and Fire was a smaller thing back then (because of GRRM’s crazy 5 year hiatuses), but not really the crazy media frenzy it is today. I love that on that day, I went home and read the entire book, and forced my mom to go back the next week to help me buy the rest of the series. We went back to Costco, and couldn’t find it, and I was forced to buy it at the local Chapters, which had the wrong sizes for book 2 and 3, which is why my book collection is so mismatched now.

When the television series was announced, I was so excited. That excitement was part of the essay I had to submit for my university application. And to me, that’s an amazing journey. And it makes me infinitely more excited for everyone to share in that joy as well. And even happier when I found out my sister was reading the books (even though I told her to), except that maybe she bought the whole book set again, even though I had a perfectly good collection in my room!

You can tell so many stories because of books. I have a Kobo. My sister has a Kobo. When I have time, I love reading on it. I’ve started on Asimov’s Robot and Foundation series. I’ve started to develop a taste for Stephen King. There’s entire worlds of books out there, and you have no clue how those books will shape you 10 years from now.

One of the things I’m thankful about is my parent’s everlasting support for reading. I may not have the richest childhood, but my parents made sure that if something made sense and made me a better person, they wouldn’t be afraid of buying it for me. So my parents constantly bought me the weird comics from my book fairs or from my random urges at Costco. I’ve read Captain Underpants just as much as I’ve read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory just as much as I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird because of them.

If you take anything out of this post, I hope it’s that books should be the last thing you skimp on, for now or for your children. I don’t regret any of my last 15 years of books, and I hope you and I will be happy with the next 15 years’ worth.

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Contact me at lai.victor.vl@gmail.com.