When I read I usually associate what I’m reading with the place I’m in. With music is the exact same thing, everytime I listen to Nina Simone I remember being in Paris because her songs were my go-to play set while I was there, for example.
Today I decided to share some of the books that, in my brain, are attached to a special location or time and what memories they bring out. Before I get to the actual post I just want to leave a little disclaimer that this is more of a dive into my memories than an actual book list. That said, here’s my list.
In April of 2015 I visited Istanbul, Turkey for a week during Easter break. It is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. The cobblestone streets, the winding lanes and the cultural diversity, especially when compared to what I’m used to (Western Europe), made it an unforgettable place. I particularly remember the morning of our return; I woke up at 4 am and couldn’t sleep anymore so I put on a coat and went to our apartment’s kitchen to read the book I’d brought along with me — The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway. At 6 am it was sunrise and I went to the balcony, I heard the morning call for prayer and listened to the city waking up. It was one of the most beautiful mornings I have ever experienced, there is something incredibly soothing about feeling alone in a strange city while watching the sunrise.
Although I didn’t particularly like the book, I ended up giving it 2 stars, I will always think of Istanbul when I see it on display in my bookshelf or in a bookstore. Moreover, it has really good and relatable quotes that I wrote down that morning, here’s one of them:
“The whole way here I saw wonderful things to paint and I can’t paint at all and never could. But I know wonderful things to write and I can’t even write a letter that isn’t stupid. I never wanted to be a painter nor a writer until I came to this country. Now it’s just like being hungry all the time and there’s nothing you can ever do about it.”
New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day
In the last days of December of 2015 I decided to spend New Year’s Eve with my grandparents in their house in the south of Portugal. That night we went out to a restaurent where we ate a wonderful meal and, at midnight, we drank a glass of champagne and ate twelve raisins, as we do each year. When the fireworks were done, my grandfather and I walked by the sea side and talked of the past and the future. At 3 am we decided to head home, but I didn’t feel like sleeping so I picked up The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger to kill some time. I went into it thinking it would be a terrible and overhyped book and was pleasantly surprised to find that I couldn’t put it down because of how entertaining it was. Long story short, I stayed up until 2 pm reading it and started the New Year with an awful headache — but I still maintain my opinion that it was absolutely worth-it.
The Summer Before 10th Grade
When I finished 9th grade in June of 2014 it was time for me to leave my friends and move to a new school where I would start the last three years of mandatory education. Needless to say that I was incredibly scared and anxious about this change, so much would now be different. I would have to use public transportation to get to school and learn how to do it by myself, I would have to start worrying about getting stellar grades so I could get into whatever university I chose and would have to start over with building friendships. That summer went by at the bat of an eye and I ended up having a lot of fun, instead of stressing endlessly about September. Part of that was Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. This book was so entertaining and contained such a positive message to which I could relate with, it’s okay to branch out a little and stepping out of your comfort zone. It resonated so deeply with me at the time and I hold nothing but fond memories of that summer in part because of this book.
The Last Month of 9th Grade
The last month of 9th grade was one of the hardest for me in terms of mental health and anxiety. I was leaving my friends, a familiar place and I could already feel some of my then friends distancing themselves and going about their businesses. I would come home everyday unmotivated to study for the last round of tests and exams, sad and stressed out. That was until I found out what BookTube was and actually got back into reading. All the bad things I would feel in the afternoon after class were replaced with excitement and joy because of the awesome books I discovered and was reading. The first book I read and that lifted my spirits was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which, to this day, still is one of my favorite books. It was the birth of a new Era — one in which I read more and more every month until I felt less alone and more understood and confident. I have so many good things to say to Rainbow Rowell if I ever do meet her, needless to say that I have since read every book has written.