Some of my most treasured memories involve books. Childhood memories tend to be long forgotten by the time we become adults but those that have shaped us in ways nothing else could have are the ones that will continue to remain with us.
For me, I have two very distinct memories involving the following two books.Both are German books written by German authors. As far as I know, neither has been translated into English. Since German is my mother tongue, and I didn’t learn English properly until I was 11, that never bothered me. But now I’m kinda sad because I really love these books and it’d be nice if more people could read those.
Anyway, the book on the left is entitled Die Wilden Hühner by Cornelia Funke. This literally translates into The Wild Hens. That’s what the four girls who form their clique, or more accurately, crew, call themselves. Die Wilden Hühner is a humorous Middle Grade book about friendship and boys. Well, less about boys since these girls are still at an age where boys are disgusting. But there is a rival crew that loves to create a lot of trouble and of course, is made up boys.The book on the right is Danke, liebes Hausgespenst by Marie Louise Fischer, which basically means Thank You, Dear House Ghost. Apparently this is the third book in a series but I had no idea until I looked it up on Goodreads. As it is, Danke, lieges Hausgespenst revolves around Monika and her friendship with Amadeus who is a ghost residing in their house. Amadeus loves to play pranks on people but he has a soft spot for Monika, so instead of driving her family out of the house, he puts up with them for her sake. What makes these two books so special to me is that these books are my firsts. Die Wilden Hühner was the first book I ever borrowed from a library, while Danke, liebes Hausgespenst was the first book I ever bought myself with my own money.
Discovering the Library
When I was still in elementary school, everyone had to get out of the school building onto the courtyard or the field during the breaks. That’s what I used to do as well. There was this one winter day though in third grade where the weather was so terrible, we had to stay indoors. I did venture out of the classroom though with a friend to exchange our milk coupons. On our way back to the classroom, we passed by this open door.
Curious as I was, I peered in and saw this tiny room with shelves containing books from the ground right up the ceiling. I was mesmerized. See, I had never looked into that room before. I didn’t even know that our school had such a room, and so I came to learn what a library was. The librarian saw me staring, so she invited me in. She told me I could borrow a book if I liked and return it when I was done reading it. Since I had no idea what to look for, she asked the student librarian who was a fourth-grader to recommend her favourite book. Die Wilden Hühner was her book of choice.
Incidentally, the following year, my grandmother gave me this book as a Christmas present. Told me one of the assistants at her bookstore had recommended it, so she had decided to get it for me. I was so excited, telling her that I had read it before and that I loved it. I received the second and third books from her on my following birthday and the following Christmas as well. So yes, this is a book I’m keeping for life.
Purchasing Power of a Child
Danke, liebes Hausgespenst fell into my hands at a flea market towards the end of third grade. My family spent the whole day at the flea market because we had family friends who set up stands and the whole place was filled with activities. While my parents walked around with their friends, us children went off to count fleas, run along the reservoir and jump around on the inflatable jumping castle. Towards the end of the day, I came across this book. I was so drawn to it, I bought it for myself. At DM 1 (approx €2), it was affordable enough. I read it, and re-read it many times in the following years.
It’s been a while since I read them but I do plan to re-read them again, that the nostalgia may wash over me. I derived so much joy from those books, I can still feel the excitement within me, as I remember the times when I first encountered them. Surely, other things contributed to fuel my love for reading, like my parents reading books to my sister and me when were still toddlers up till elementary school. These things however, are not as easy to pin-point and aren’t as concrete as particular books that clearly had an impact on me.
So, this is how I came to fall in love with reading. The rest, as they say, is history.