I remember when Bloomington used to have a Barnes & Noble. I would spend hours in the kids section looking at books. There was one day in particular where I held a napkin and pen as I read the backs of books.
Every book I felt inclined to eventually read, I would write its title down on the napkin, along with the author. I think I wrote a total of over 100 books on that napkin. I don't know where it is anymore.
I was at the peak of my reading career in fourth grade when there was a schoolwide reading competition. Whoever read the most minutes during a certain period of time won their class a pizza party and a free book for winning student. My best friend and I were in different homerooms at the time and participated in a fierce competition with each other to see who could read the most. It was friendly, of course, but we both took it more seriously than you could expect fourth graders to.
I would read on the bus, secretly under the table at dinner and stay up late — past midnight — to get those minutes in. Even though I did lose by a small margin, I was able to travel to a number of different worlds and immerse myself in an alternate reality.
Even if I’m simply reading the back cover of a book at Morgenstern’s, for a moment, I find myself amid a new and unfamiliar setting. I put myself in the characters’ shoes and let myself live a different life for a bit. Everything around me fades away as I get a feel for who the narrator is and what their life is like. Losing track of time while reading is one of the best feelings; amid a technology-driven world, the right books still have the ability to capture our utmost attention.
Even though I have significantly less time now than I did in fourth grade to read, books never failed to be interesting and captivating to me. Every book’s primary purpose is to inform and entertain. It's up to us to allow the book to talk to us.
I very recently finished one of my now all-time favorite books, called “This Golden State,” by Marit Weisenberg.
The book follows the life of teenage girl Poppy on the run. Every time her parents make her move houses, she gets a new identity and a new life. Her parents are extremely secretive: they don’t want their kids on the internet or forming meaningful relationships. They're trying to do everything possible to protect their past from their children and not get caught.
This book captured me from the very start; it’s one of those books you can’t stop reading or stop thinking about. It hurt to put it down when I had other things to do. I immediately got caught up in Poppy’s story, emotions and struggles. I could picture her in her car with her family, angry that she was being lied to by her parents. I could imagine her going to summer school and talking to new people.
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Without realizing it, I spent hours upon hours with that book. It was one of those books that makes you want there to be a sequel, a book where you get so attached to the characters that you get sad once you’re at the end. You want to know what happens, but once you do, their story is over. It's time to move on to another book. Your time with Poppy and her family has run its course. It's these types of books that are both exhilarating and heartbreaking at the same time.
These types of books don’t come along that often. I find them once every blue moon. Yet every book has a purpose and a way to hook you in. Even if it may not be your style or something you find interesting, it always has something valuable to offer us.
Isabella Vesperini (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and minoring in Italian.