Being originally from Colombia, Spanish is my native tongue, but somehow I don’t consider it that. I came to England when I was 10 years old and I did not know any English at all, school helped me a lot with the basics, but I had a very intense studying schedule when I got home every day as well. I would read for two hours everyday and at first I hated reading, it seems crazy to me now but the struggle with the language those first few months really irritated me. But I grew to love it, so much so that the pages of Harry Potter became my source of entertainment. My mum would sometimes struggled with punishing me, because I loved reading so much she wanted to take my books away; but she could not bring herself to take away something that was helping to nourish my mind. And when I began to grasp the language better I stopped using my school library books because I would finish them to quickly and moved on to my mum’s books. And boy was it different! My mum’s book collection consisted of Encyclopaedias, Dan Brown, and John Grisham mostly. I remember reading Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress when I was 11 and being completely hooked by the complexity of his writing, which it was for my 11-year-old mind, but wanting to learn everything the novel explored. I would consequently spend hours learning about cryptography and the NSA, and I would do this pretty much for everything else I read. I took me more or less a year to be able to speak English fluently, and I thank my mum for that. She opened me to worlds that were better than any I had every seen on a television or in a cinema. And that is how my unhealthy obsession with books began.
I guess that is mainly why I consider English to be more my native tongue. Even though Spanish is a Romantic language, and everything evoked in the tongue flows beautifully, I don’t find that beauty in the books I do read in Spanish the way I find it in English literature. One book that I instantly feel in love with was Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, I had never read anything like it. His spontaneous style of writing was so refreshing, that everything truly came to life, and most books i read achieve this, none have been so vibrant and alive. It makes me want to take-off with only a small backpack and see where the road will take me. There is sadness, beauty, and hardship everything that life is about, but without the fantastical sometimes added to the language of a prose to express something. The simplicity in the language is amplified by the beauty of the style which brings out such beautiful poetic expression:
“And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiancies shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotuslands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven. I could hear an indescribable seething roar which wasn’t in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds. I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn’t remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it. I realized it was only because of the stability of the intrinsic Mind that these ripples of birth and death took place, like the action of the wind on a sheet of pure, serene, mirror-like water. I felt sweet, swinging bliss, like a big shot of heroin in the mainline vein; like a gulp of wine late in the afternoon and it makes you shudder; my feet tingled. I thought I was going to die the very next moment. But I didn’t die…” - On The Road, Jack Kerouac
And in those lines he grasped what we should all strive to be as humans. And whenever I doubt everything and everyone I come back to these lines and remember that we are in constant change, constant rebirth.
That is what books should make you feel like. They should inspire you and bring life and colour to your sometimes dull and simple life. I guess I will always be obsessed with books, but then who can blame me right?