I was walking back home from lessons last week Wednesday. On my way home, I usually pass by a marketplace. They sell virtually any and everything in the area. I usually walk past as fast as I can, with a blank unwavering expression on my face. My mind bent on nothing else but getting home and getting out of the sweaty clothes I’d been in all day, cooped up in a class for 8 hours learning math. I also keep that expression for fear of being mugged- I know, I can be paranoid, but better to be on-edge than sorry. As I hurriedly passed through this fateful day, my eyes caught an item in a store. No, it wasn’t a dress or some fancy earrings. It was a book. A novel I once read 5 years ago when I was in high school. And boy, did it bring back memories.
I won’t describe my high school self as “booky” or having a ‘book fetish’. But I did read. I read the literature books that was required of us in class. Anything more seemed like a task. Piling more to-dos on an already exhausted teenager was just cruel. Like I didn’t already have 10 subjects worth of homework each week.
“I cannot come and die abeg”
But can you imagine that there was actually a time I enjoyed reading. In fact, I dreamed of being a writer. Sounds silly, I know but that was 6 year old Jess.
In elementary school, I was fascinated by arts and stories. Creative writing and comprehension were my best classes. The way you could cook up stories that never really happened and make them come to life intrigued me so much. Going to the library back then was not a boring task, in fact, it was one of the classes we had. I know what you’re thinking. Library period?! Bleh….No thank you.
Twice a week or so my class went to the library for 30 minutes. Everyone individually picked out a story book, obviously one you could read, and read it. Afterwards, you’d write a summary about it in your notes and answer a few questions like whether it was fiction or not and who the author was. Back then, I didn’t know the difference between fiction and nonfiction. So I always answered that one wrong. But it was an exciting experience for me. How one could travel to another world and see spectacular, magnificent, wonderful, magical moments unfold, until of course you unfortunately realise that you’re still seated at your desk! Jungle book, Alice in wonderland, all the best Enid Blyton books as well as some local favourites like Prince Enyemba and the Edikaikong soup. Haha, I loved that one! I loved how the authors played with words, adding ‘big’ words to my vocabulary list each time and also to my casual speech. I was the smallest 3rd grader with the cutest “queen’s English” accent you’d ever heard 😁.
As I grew older, I picked bigger books. Of course, I was a big girl, gone were the days of baby books. 50, 70, even 100 pagers were my domain. In every grade we had an alternative class library which made finding and reading story books a lot easier. Every student could bring books and drop off at the class library. It wasn’t until 4th grade when I came across a book that genuinely sparked something in me. It was a novel written by a Christian author. I didn’t know that at the time. I just took it because it looked cute and had a girl with curly red hair on the cover. Lily Robbins, MD. I could never forget the name. I can’t go into detail on what the story was about even though I surprisingly still remember a lot of it. But what struck me the most was how the author incorporated faith into the story without making it boring! In fact, I couldn’t concentrate on much that week because I was so bent on getting to the end of that book. I was so glad when I realised that the book came in a series. And ya girl just had to read all the books in the series. Once I love something, there’s no turning back 😁.
Anyways, what was the reason for this awkward back story? you might ask. Didn’t I start with me walking past the street trying not to get mugged. Haha! Okay, back to that. The novel in the store I passed by wasn’t Lily Robbins MD. I’d obviously moved on from children’s stories. But it was somewhat similar. It was a Christian novel I read back in high school that reminded me so much of the Lily Robbins novel. I stopped reading novels in high school, at least not as much as I did in grade school. But why I read that one, I still don’t know. Maybe it was because my friends were raving about it. They’d passed the book from one person to another and it finally got to me. It looked like a herculean task to even attempt to read. Probably 500 pages and with small font. Christ, when would I be done reading something like this?
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
At first glance you’d think it was one of those dirty harlequin novels high school students carried around. I didn’t bother myself with those. Made me feel uncomfortable to carry around something my mother would never allow in her house. Certainly not meant for a 13 year old. I’d actually preferred adventure, or mystery. Something to keep you on edge wanting to turn the next page. So when I got the book, I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten into.
What was even so special about it?
But boy was it special, it was beyond special! A New York Times best seller kind of special. It wasn’t until I started page one and got hooked, before I understood and finally concluded that that this could probably be one of the best novels that existed.
Okay maybe I exaggerated a little back there. But it’s just really really good. For the sake of not giving out spoilers to those that haven’t read it yet, I won’t talk about what it’s about- the plot and all. All I can say is, coming across the same novel that day in the marketplace brought back memories. But it also brought up a stirring inside of me. I had abandoned the thought of reading. But I suddenly remembered how it felt to read. Read something meaningful, yet exciting. Something powerful, written so exquisitely and yet be able to impact and change perspectives and ultimately lives. An award winning work of art with a compelling message of truth and hope.
Right now I’ve run out of adjectives but I hope you get the point. I remembered the joy of it and decided that I wanted to have that joy again. So you know what I did the next day? I ordered that same book for myself. So I could read it again and be reminded of the wonderful lessons it offers through intricate storytelling. Lessons of God’s superabundant, incomprehensible, reckless love. A message that resonates in the soul forever. In fact, I got so excited, I bought two other books by the same author! I might just go ahead and buy the author’s whole collection one day. Who knows 😁?
Thank you so much for reading! Hope you enjoyed this post! Don’t forget to comment down below what you think! Did you like to read as a kid? How about now? What are your favourite books and authors? I’d really love to know.
Until next time,