Literature can be quite a solitary hobby. However, I’ve had a few people in my life who really shaped my interest in literature, by challenging my reading or by showing me new genres. And because I study literature and devote my life to it, they haven’t just helped shape this hobby, they have shaped my life too.
Very early on, I showed a huge interest in books. My mom always encouraged this by taking me to the library and buying lots of books for me. I even remember a vacation in France where I’d finished all the books I had with me and she just called our bookstore and had them send some books over. I read so much she could hardly keep track of it, but I know she tried as much as possible to read the last pages of the books I read, to see what it was about and if anything shocking happened that we might needed to talk about. She has provided me with so many books that I’m glad I can now return the favour: now I recommend books to her!
My dad is a really proactive guy: if you like something, you should do something with it. He always encouraged me to not only read a lot, but write about it as well. When I started writing short reviews on Goodreads and Instagram, he was the one who told me I should start a blog about my reading. He works in communication himself and I always knew I could trust his opinion on my writing: if what I wrote wouldn’t be interesting enough, I knew he would tell me. So I started writing about literature more, and this really helped improve my literary skills: I read lot more critical now.
My best friend from high school, Marianne
When I went to high school I read mostly young adult-novels, fantasy, historical novels and some modern Dutch literature. I was a bit afraid of those old, classic books that everyone said I should read, I thought those would be too difficult for me. But Marianne was a big fan of everything English and her love for Jane Austen and Emily Brönte helped to start reading more classic literature. I was so impressed by her (her English was also way better than mine, but she insisted I’d not read a translation), but she kept encouraging me that it wouldn’t be that scary and now I actually prefer that kind of literature.
My stepmother was a big reader as well, mostly of classical literature and of biographies of historical persons. She had high standards when it came to literature: she didn’t want to waste her time on a bad book. She taught me to be more critical of what I read. I have a tendency to read everything I can get my hands on and although that brings me into contact with lots of different kinds of literature, it also takes up a lot of time. She was so good at knowing which books she would like, she hardly ever bought something she didn’t like.
My friend Laurens
Avid readers of my blog might have noticed his name before, because Laurens is currently one of my biggest literary influencers. We just click when it comes to conversations about literature (although we can have some pretty heated discussions about it as well). We both study literature, we both prefer ‘high’ literature, but we also have our own specialisations: Laurens knows way more about poetry, I know more about ancient Greek and Latin literature. We challenge each other to read a lot and we have a lot of fun as well: while on vacation we love visiting literary spots. When we went to France this summer we even made all kinds of detours just so we visit the graves of some winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature!