The People Made of Words


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Ever since I was a simple toddler with unruly, curly hair and slightly spaced-out baby teeth, I've had a passion for books. I have no exact age in mind where I began to read (or rather, interpret), basic words, but as far as I can remember, books always have been something I used to escape realities about which I didn't feel positive — such as middle school — and have been educating me in ways I have not noticed.

Mid-third grade, I began the Harry Potter series. Before that, I read plenty, but it's true enough for me to say that the Harry Potter books were the catalyst to my concept of identifying with both personality flaws and strengths of fictional characters. It fascinated me that although, 1.) no, I was not a teenage boy wizard; and 2.) I was not referred to as the "Chosen One" amongst an international wizarding world; I was still able to relate to the main character's occasional awareness of feeling out of place. 
   After I finished the series, my small habit of character analysis did not come to a stop; I realized that even if I could not relate to the characters, there at least was one person in my life that reminded me of one of the fictional figures in the book I was reading.
   As I look back at my thought processes as a young girl reading a bunch of books, I am beginning to understand my child self better. Being able to relate to fictional characters (or associating a person in my life with one of the main elements of the book) gave me a sense of reassurance. The sense of reassurance I got from books was a faintly cliché one, but it was a bit too elaborate for me to realize at age nine or ten. 
   Books and stories gave me justification that the feelings I felt or my flaws and strengths were not things that made me "alone" or "weird." In actuality, they made me feel more individual and thoughtful, if anything. Reading did not make me thoughtful in a sense that I was caring and full of concern. It was a different sort of thoughtfulness that filled me with different ideas on how to understand myself and others better.
   As I got older, the content I was reading became different from a happy-ever-after story about a wizard boy. The books consisted of far more intricate subjects, and as for the characters: less two-dimensional. 
   When I read books now, I find myself not only relating to the content, but also trying to understand the character being expressed through the writer's work. I've found that although writing is essentially a very lonesome thing, writers are some of the best people-analyzers I can think of.
   I am most appreciative of the writers that are able to present a human being candidly: very real, even if fictional; very flawed, but also beautiful. I am appreciative of their capability to create a character realistically, whether it is writing about their features, thoughts, actions, or words. 
   The way Vladimir Nabokov writes from the perspective of Lolita's main character, Humbert, is astounding in ways where the words are able to leave different amounts of imagination for the reader within different areas of the book. A writer like Nabokov creates Humbert — flawed and conflicted in several ways — and "allows" the character to share his uncensored thoughts with the reader in a sort of journalistic manner. Instead of following an opinion the writer wants them to have, the readers take this information Nabokov writes about Humbert and think for themselves. Is Humbert just expressing love for his innocent crush, or is he simply crazy? An author like Nabokov can only hope that the reader uses their ethics while analyzing a character as conflicted as Humbert.

Within this summary of character analysis being important to me as an avid reader, it's clear that I have been reading books for other reasons than using them to pass time or to acquire an escape from real life. Books have been my source of relief and consolation. They are little (or big) reminders in forms of stories and insight that so often emphasizes the statement that no one is or should be kept under the phrase, "the only one."

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