How I Became A Reader, part 2

When I was six I went to school and realized that most children couldn't read or couldn't read very well. As a matter of fact, apparently that's what we were in the school for! To learn it. So I thought to myself: "Well, this is going to be an awful waste of time."

There was another boy in the class who seemed to be on the same page as me, so to speak. Our teacher thankfully recognized that and sat us in the back of the class and gave us some books to read. And this is how I became a social outcast whose best friend was a boy obsessed with dinosaurs.

Myself, I was more obsessed with contemporary animals and my most cherished possession was a series of children books on nature. There were six books, one for each season and sub-season (we have those in Poland - continental climate, you see) and they included poems, stories, interesting facts about animals, plants and the weather and also ideas for indoor and outdoor activities. I loved these books so much, that I was 'saving' them and would only allow myself to read about 5 pages per week. They were called 'Razem ze słonkiem' which translates to 'Together with the Sun'.

 

 

 
 

 Other than that, it was mostly my dad who influenced my reading choices, therefore I read mostly "boys' books" like those written by Nienacki, Niziurski, Szklarski and a few other -cki and -ski names that would mean nothing to you. I was turning into a complete tree-climbing and clothes-ruining tomboy and my only contact with "girls' books" came through our school which awarded good grades with books every semester. I sometimes think that was the only reason I cared to have good grades. Some of my favourite books of that time came to me via that route.

The special mention goes to 'Blue Castle' by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I mean, it was about a shy girl who falls in love with a man who write books about animals and nature! For many years it was my favourite book and a benchmark when it came to my idea of love. Another favourite was Astrid Lindgren's The Brothers Lionheart. I remember it was about two brothers, there were horses and I cried a lot.

Eventually when I was about 13-15 I started to abandon books about boys' adventures and animals and started to explore my feminine side. I read a lot of Siesicka and Musierowicz, two main Polish authors who wrote for teenage girls. It was before wizards and vampires and the stories were mostly realistic. The bridge between this girly literature and what I read before came in form of Chmielewska, the most famous writer of detective stories in Poland. She had a few books for children and teenagers, who unlike Nienancki's and Niziurski's books had girls in it and even occasional mild boyfriend problems.


All this reading about love and boyfriends made me want to try the thing myself. And so I turned 16...