Personal Narratives

At the end of National Reading Month, I reflect on the positive impact books have made on my life

March 31, 2023

By Debbie Ogunbowale
Staff Writer

March 2020 is a month I will never forget. The world went into lockdown, and the year ended much differently than it started for millions of people around the world, myself included.

After being forced to move out of our house in Newark, my family and I had to secure a new home within a month. In April 2020, my family and I found our new house in Lyndhurst, and the move was very hard for me. It made me feel even more isolated from friends and teachers whom I could only see on a screen.

I tried not to let it show how much the move affected me because I did not want to add to my parents’ stress. I became introverted and turned to social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. It was on TikTok that I came across a book series called “The Selection” by Kiera Cass and was instantly enthralled by the plot, which is about 35 girls who compete for a prince’s heart. I downloaded the book, and after reading the novellas and finishing the entire series, I was truly fascinated by how interesting books could be.

After seeing a TikTok post about “The Selection,” book-related videos started appearing on my For You page, and I became interested in the hashtag BookTok, which consists of concise videos that recommend a variety of texts.

I was introduced to leisure reading in 2020, but 2021 was when I became addicted to books. I discovered my two favorite young adult fantasy authors Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black through BookTok, and their books have profoundly impacted my life. 

Bardugo’s popular BookTok book series “Six of Crows” profoundly impacted my life because it was one of the first books I read that had diverse characters that were not stereotyped.

I was introduced to leisure reading in 2020, but 2021 was when I became addicted to books.

Black’s popular BookTok series “The Folk of the Air” is another one of my all-time favorite reads. Her characters are so intricate, and she does an amazing job portraying the enemies-to-lovers trope.

Finding genres that appealed to me was the next step in my reading journey. I started off with fantasy books written by various authors including Renée Ahdieh, Hafash Faizel and Trica Levenseller. I then switched to romance books by authors like Elena Armas, Ali Hazelwood and Emily Henry. I even tried the “Bridgerton” books after watching the show on Netflix. 

BookTok and Bookstagram, which is similar to BookTok but on Instagram, have been my main sources for getting book recommendations. BookTok isn’t always the best place to find recommendations because there are a lot of problematic authors whose books get recommended often without there being a content warning, and those authors still profit because people are buying their books. Therefore, one should always do further research into the books they find on BookTok before starting to read them.

Some people criticize reading because they don’t understand its value, but it has given me a safe space that I truly appreciate. When I read, I am transferred into a world in my imagination and every word on the pages feels like a movie is playing in my head. Reading on my own has also helped me learn new words and figure out how to digest information at a faster pace than I was taught in school. 

It has become my annual tradition to create a goal for myself as to how many books I want to read before the end of the year. In 2021, my goal was 25 books, and I ended up beating it by reading 32. In 2022, my goal was 50 books. Again, I exceeded my expectations and read 75. My reading goal for 2023 is 100 books, and with a quarter of the year behind us, I’ve read 25, which means that I am one book ahead of my goal. I am excited about all the books and new authors that I’ll discover this year, and I can’t wait to fall more and more in love with books.

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