Enamored with the humanity of words


After having had enough of listening to my mother reading to me and enviously eyeing my siblings reading on their own, I finally demanded that my mom teach me how to do this coveted task. I was around three or four, and my request was followed with hours of my mom sitting down with me teaching me letters, syllables, words, and phrases. After I graduated from reading the obscure, simple sentences my mom wrote out for me on the backs of scrap paper, I moved on to the gloriously endless supply of books at the library. I started out with Bob Books, a series of wholly bland books catered to ease young children into the world of reading on their own. I absolutely hated them. They were dull and plotless, and my pretentious young self yearned to advance. Nevertheless, my mom forced me to get through them. After eventually trudging my way through the series, I progressed to a host of picture books that captured my heart. And before kindergarten, I was deeply entrenched in a number of chapter books series– a phenomenon that my peers admired in awe, and that I had no trouble perpetuating.

From the time of the Bob Books, the Cascade branch of KDL morphed into my second home. Since I was constantly traipsing up to the counter to ask for assistance, the librarians eventually got to know me. They’d toss me warm smiles every time I came in, discuss and suggest books for me, and one librarian even brought me to the back to show me her cute little dogs when I wore a t-shirt adorned with a dog (it was amazing). Every week I staggered out of the library with a teetering stack of books in my tiny hands, reading through them all well before the allotted three weeks. I read at dinner, in the car, while brushing my teeth– wherever and whenever I could. There were instances during the summer and other breaks that I would finish a book within hours. I was so incredibly enchanted with the written word. There was something magical about it; I just couldn’t break the spell it had cast me under.

Life got in the way, and my reading habits eventually minimized. It feels like a feeble excuse for something that was, and still is, such a fundamental part of me. But I still am just as infatuated with words and stories as I was when I so desperately wanted to break away from those Bob Books. Words are lovely and messy and destructive and alluring, and completely and utterly human. But most of all, they are beautiful. I loved them then, and I love them now. The power they hold is astounding– not just in the cliche sense of “be careful with your words,” but also in terms of what you can do with them from a purely linguistic point of view. The power some writers wield, when it comes to their talent for stringing words together, is breathtaking. They can create brilliant stories that evoke equally as brilliant reactions in the reader. When we read words, we hear different voices and conjure up flourishing images. Our minds race with all the ideas and messages that those words induce. Everything about that process of a human spawning stories, worlds, and ideas with simply their minds, and then other humans lapping it up and perceiving those stories in countless different ways is absolutely beautiful. It’s raw, radiant, and the most primitive, yet intricate, aspect of humanity.

I’m fifteen now, fresh out of the glorious preteen phase of plastering one’s walls with tacky posters and ripped out pages from magazines. I couldn’t bring myself to keep my walls bare; it felt too impersonal. So now I cover my walls with words. Words have been a constant comfort throughout my entire life– a constant that has never failed me or let me down, always there whenever I choose to open a book. That’s why I like to cover the walls of my bedroom with words. They are soothing. They are beautiful. And they are human.