I can’t even count how many books covered the walls of my childhood home. Growing up, I’d find books everywhere. They were in duffle bags, the kitchen table, the counters, the bathrooms, the coffee table, not to mention the amount you’d find in individual bedrooms. My mom was always a firm believer that a healthy book collection was a big book collection. She would read to me and my brother every night, and definitely made sure that we would both have a book hoarding problem like her. Even now, my current home has books in just about every room. The shelves in my room overflow, and some of my favorites have had to find homes in the living room.
I have everything from non-fiction to fantasy to poetry to dystopian on my shelves. I try to keep a diverse population of books so that I can always suggest something to someone else. I want to share what I enjoy with others, so I work to have a broad range. This also allows me to engage in more genre specific conversations. Also, being able to see patterns across different types of stories is really interesting.
More recently, I have started getting into comics and graphic novels. This is super fun for me since it’s something I never really did growing up. Back then, I was obsessed with reading the biggest books possible and comics just weren’t as accessible. I’m super glad they are able to join my bookshelf as I’ve gotten older. There’s something so freeing about letting myself enjoy things I didn’t get to when I was younger. I always wanted to be the kid who was reading something that people would see and would recognize as something impressive. Now, I am a lot more focused on reading for enjoyment which is a very welcomed change.
I have started collecting books from my grade school years so that I can reread them. I was never the biggest fan of rereading anything—I always wanted to consume something new. Through the pandemic, I have lost a lot of that ideology. It was easier to find comfort in series I’ve already read, so I started buying series like The Uglies and Gracelings. It was nice to have something familiar sitting on my shelf when I needed them. I also never realized some of the heavier plot points in them since I was so young when I read them.
One of my favorite things about being in college and studying English is that I have the opportunity to go back to things from my childhood and engage with them in an entirely new way. This past year I wrote a ten page essay about The Hunger Games and its cultural impact and how we have lost a lot of the meaning behind the book because of the sensationalization of it. The movies focused on the love story, but that was never what the books were about. I had forgotten that as I have grown. Seeing these books in a new light is amazing, and all the more reason to add them to my shelves.
Emory Night is currently studying at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They plan to graduate with a BA in English and a minor in secondary education. They are an intern with The Jones Center for Leadership and Service and read regularly with Writers Block, a writing club at the University of Tennessee.
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