My fiancé knows that when I’m feeling sad, nervous, or any other negative feelings, the best way to cheer me up is to take me to a bookstore and let me be among the books.
He knows that one of the best ways to bring up my mood is to let me browse titles, take in cover art, and dream of a day when I might see my own writing on one of those shelves.
Reading as a teenager
For as long as I can remember, I have always felt the safest and the most at home in bookstores. When I was living in Niagara Falls, Canada, you could find me at Chapters at least once a week, and the Book Outlet in the days following payday.
I referred to myself as an avid reader for the majority of my teen years. I was obsessed with V.C. Andrews, Rachel Cohn, and any poetry I could find.
But looking back, I spent more time collecting books — classics like Wuthering Heights, or anything with eye-catching cover at Costco — than actually reading them. I’ll be completely honest, I think I’ve only read the first 10 or so pages of Wuthering Heights, if that, since the spine is barely broken.
Reading as a young adult
Between course readings, friends, and (re-)watching everything from Gilmore Girls to any classic 90s teen movie you can think of, I didn’t find much time to indulge my own reading habit. But oh did I ever have dreams.
My reading muses? — Rory Gilmore from (you guessed it) Gilmore Girls, and Jamie Sullivan from A Walk to Remember (the film, because I never did read the Nicholas Sparks book it was based on).
Rory was the ultimate book nerd with Harvard dreams — much like myself as a young teen, visiting Harvard’s Coop bookstore in Cambridge, MA every time we went to visit my aunt in Boston. I think a lot of us book nerds related to her well.
Jamie Sullivan was a very religious girl, with leukemia, who loved to read. She was someone I never though I’d have anything in common with other than a love for books and a loving partner.
Fast forward: September 1st 2015
I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
There is a long story of before, during, and after my diagnosis and treatment. Followed by a stem cell transplantation, resulting in a number of minor but serious complications. I will share these stories one day… here, and in the memoir I am currently working on.
Being diagnosed with cancer is probably the scariest and last thing you expect after some routine bloodwork. As I mention in almost every post where I talk about my illness, I didn’t even know what leukemia was other than a word I’d heard here, there, and in A Walk to Remember.
Among all the things I was feeling — fear, anger, an unwavering instinct to fight with all I had — one I didn’t expect to feel was a sort of regret for not having been the avid reader I once was.
Treatment involved two months in hospital for my first two rounds of chemotherapies, a month of R&R at home, and a stem cell transplantation (which consisted of more chemotherapy, and another month in hospital). I thought to myself: “as much as this sucks, at least I’ll have time to read”.
Boy was I ever wrong…
This is the first of a series of posts about my adventures in rekindling my love for reading.