[Tip : Don’t feel like reading ? Scroll down, there’s a video at the end ;)]
These days, I reflect on a lot of things from my past. I wonder how I got where I am today, which elements were key to produce the specimen I am now, especially during my teenage years. Along this journey of self-discovery, I thought about these books who changed in a matter of hours, my vision of life, my vision of myself, and the meaning of my existence down here.
Ready to go down memory lane with me ?
1st stop : “Le Pacte des Marchombres”, by Pierre Bottero.
Translated summary : “The only survivor of a group of pioneers after their caravan was attacked by Rais in the north of the Empire, a little girl is taken in by the Little People. She grows up in the Home Forest away from men and decides, as a teenager, to go in search of her origins. On her way, under the name of Ellana, she meets the greatest of all merchants, Master Jilano Alhuïn, who takes her as a pupil and initiates her into the secrets of his guild. An apprenticeship full of pitfalls, encounters and enmities…”
It is a pity that there’s no English edition for this book, but I couldn’t skip it. As a child I’ve always loved to read, we had lots of children’s books at home and the school would take us to the library regularly. But when I got into middle school, it all stopped. And you know, I was too old for children’s books, but too young for adult books so I was not sure about what I was supposed to read now.
This first book, ‘Ellana’, and all the series linked to this book (there’s a whole world) got me started in this new period of my reading life. I remember I read this trilogy so fast, and at that time they were my favorite books ever. I thought Ellana was so cool, so badass, she was such an amazing character, a strong woman… I was completely smitten.
2nd stop : “Fushigi Yugi”, by Yuu Watase.
I grew up with brothers and sisters who watched Japanese cartoons on tv, and I loved it. When I was in middle school I eventually stumbled upon second-hand mangas in a shop, and I was so curious about it, I bought it. Even though it was the volume 2 already, I got hooked.
I became quite obsessed with it. I tried to find the other volumes in similar shops, started to buy a few ones online when I couldn’t find them, I binge-watched the cartoon, read the mangaka’s other series…. So yeah. I now have them all now + a great collection of mangas and that’s all because of this one.
3rd stop : “One Liter of Tears” by Aya Kito & “If This is a Man”, by Primo Levi.
I’m putting them together, because they both taught me about the value of life. How fragile it is. How precious it is. I think I’ve read these books around the same time, near the end of middle school so I was around 15.
“If This is a Man” came into my life as a school project. My French teacher assigned a book per student related to World War 2 and she gave me the hardest one, because she thought I was mature enough to read it. I loved this teacher, I think she’s the first one who ever believed in my writing, and I was so thankful that someone was believing in me so strongly. It wasn’t an easy read, and I don’t even remember what I wrote in my book report. But it was blunt reality. It is a testimony from a man who got deported during WW2, survived, but then committed suicide. Years later, when I found this book in a shop, I immediatly bought it. I don’t know if I will ever have the courage to read it again, but this book is still precious to me. It’s the last legacy of this man.
“One Liter of Tears” on the other side, is the fight of Aya for life, for hope, despite seeing her own body deteriorating slowly. I’ve watched the Japanese TV series first, and god back then I had never cried so much for a show. I knew it was inspired by the real life of Aya Kito, and when I discovered that her diaries had been published, I tried to find a copy. None existed in French, so I ordered the English one (even that one is hard to find). Aya was so strong. She was writing poems, like me, and when I first read the book I wrote her poems on post-its and put them on my walls, to cheer me up. Because no matter what I was going through, it was nothing compared to what she had been through. And despite her disability and her declining health, Aya wrote such beautiful words. Up to this day, she’s still a big inspiration to me. A role model.
4th stop : “South of the Border, West of the Sun”, by Haruki Murakami.
This one came later, I think I was in high school. I was reading less back then because well high school is busy, I had taken lots of options so I was always tired and busy. By pure curiosity I picked this book in a supermarket. I was learning Japanese by myself back then, and I was curious about the Japanese literature. The cover was also pretty, simple but elegant (not this one, check my video if you want to see mine), so I bought it.
And wow. This was a revelation. Even now I’m not sure how to put the right words on what I felt back then. I think in one evening I was done reading it. I devoured it. The plot was not amazing, it was actually pretty simple, very slice-of-life, everyday things that could happen to anyone, nothing special. And yet, the way it was written, the elegance of it… I was mesmerized. It was not going to become my favorite book ever, no. But I felt like damn. This is art. This is beautiful.
And here began my obsession with Haruki Murakami haha. I think it influenced my writing a lot after that. It made me realize that there was beauty in everything in life. You didn’t need to create another world, have a super complex plot, or never seen before characters or scenes, to build something beautiful. His simplicity and elegance inspired me a lot, and I longed to get closer to this degree of magnificence. [Little warning : this one is not PG !]
What about you ? Which books made a real impact on you as you were growing up ? Oh and if you guys need links to know where to buy these books, just ask me 🙂
I wish you all a lovely week, and see you next Wednesday !