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My first love affair was longer than thirty pages; it had no thirty-point font; it did not include any colorful illustrations. In the summer of third grade I read Matilda, by Roald Dahl. I was awed at the size of the thing; I mean, I could barely hold it with two hands. I felt like such an adult when I flipped through all 232 pages and saw nothing but normal text and a few black and white illustrations. Soon enough I was begging for the Trunchbull to have mercy on Matilda, and I remember how badly I felt that Ms. Honey had to eat margarine instead of butter. Recalling the hilarious image of Amanda being catapulted through the air by her pigtails always puts a grin on my face.
I paused every few paragraphs to whoop into my pillow, punching the bed with gusto. I would become irritated at the slightest interruption. Reading an actual book better be enough to finally make me smarter than my sister, I thought. I can still remember the sense of accomplishment at finishing Chapter 1. Chapter 1! I was finally able to experience reading a book, after years of scribbling on paper with colored pencils and stapling the sheets together just to imagine what it was like.
The monotony of third grade was broken when I entered the world of a precocious girl with telekinetic powers who lived happily ever after. Many others worlds followed, from those of Dostoevsky to Hemingway to Orwell, but Dahl’s remains the one that ignited my passion for literature.
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