Last month Andi wrote me an email, asking if I wanted to do this. Not just write a warm-up post because I already signed up for that part. No, she asked me if I wanted to write this particular blog post, the last one before the Read-a-thon, reserved for a tribute to Dewey who’s the reason we’re all doing this “reading thing” tomorrow. I have to admit: I almost started crying.
This is my third read-a-thon and if you are wondering: No, I didn’t have the honor to know Dewey when she was alive. But even after her death she became a huge part of my life, without even knowing it. Writing this today, remembering that maybe we wouldn’t be doing this thing, without her, is such an honor and I feel truly blessed getting this chance to talk to all of you.
Let me start by introducing myself: My name is Katja and I have been blogging for more than 12 years. Not all of them about books but they kind of grew on me. Since 2006 I have been blogging from my own domain cautious.dk and it was also back then I really started reviewing books. Over the years it just expanded because as I grew older I didn’t have the need to blog about every single thing in my life, and I started focusing more and more on the books.
I started reading when I was a kid. The truth is I was never the popular kid in the schoolyard. But I wasn’t the one they picked on or anything either. Not before that year. I had a handful of kids who ran after me every day, teasing me, picking on me, pushing me, kicking and hitting. And no matter how much my mom tried to talk to the teachers, the other parents, and the school, it didn’t help. I had bruises and I became even shyer than I was before and so books became my way out of it. They didn’t make it go away, I was still crying then I was alone, I still didn’t want to go to school. But when I stepped in to the library and walked along the shelves no one was laughing at me. No one thought I was strange. I could just be myself and so I started reading, hiding in other worlds, other characters. Then when I didn’t like my own life I could at least live someone else’s, just for a couple of hours.
Later on, the bullying stopped, I grew older and as most of you may know, you change and get new interests. I stopped reading for a few years and didn’t open a book if it wasn’t for school. Then I started working in a bookstore and I started reading again. It was like seeing an old friend. Nothing had changed, I still loved to read. The turn of events since I stopped had not changed that one bit. I had been out for a while but I was still in love with them. And so I decided to start over, start reading again.
Okay, so to make a long story just a little shorter: The years went by without me knowing anything about Dewey, read-a-thons or anything like that. Then, in 2012 I noticed Dewey’s read-a-thon for the first time and after a little while I signed up for the last one in 2013. I challenged myself reading as much as possible and it was a nice experience. Then April came earlier this year, and I made a deal with myself about being a part of it again but instead of just reading I wanted to use the time to make new friends, experience what other people did for those 24 hours. And so I started live-blogging during the read-a-thon, I used Twitter a lot and I became cheer captain. And then Dewey changed my life.
The April read-a-thon became one of the biggest successes in my life. I know other people will be thinking “Really, are you serious?” but the truth is that those 24 hours changed a lot for me, they became a milestone and a symbol for something very important for me.
First of all I decided to only read English books. That was huge for me, since reading in English is new for me in general. But I read Starters by Lissa Price and started Taken by Erin Bowman. And I loved them.
Second of all I was way more social than I thought I would be. I used a lot of time not-reading and instead using the hours to talk to my cheer squad and all the readers. I had a huge activity going on on Twitter and I met so many new people I would never had known today, if it wasn’t for Dewey. It also started a whole new period of my life, discovering how big the English-speaking book blogger community is and how many nice people there are out there. One of them is Vicky, who I am going to visit in London next month. I wouldn’t have known her today if it wasn’t for what Dewey started for me.
Third is that Dewey made me realize that I’m a lot better reading and writing English than I thought I was. And yes some of you will see mistakes in this blog post or on my own blog but it’s okay. Because I still manage to write a whole blog post and make myself pretty clear. And I’m learning every time I try.
And that is what Dewey taught me and reminded me of: I have to keep my eyes open for new experiences, believe in myself and keep reading. But not just alone as usual but along with others as well. The books don’t have to be a non-social event just for me; I’m not using them to hide anymore, they have become an experience with other people out there, reading them as well. And that is the most important thing about Dewey. She brought people together when she was alive, she still does, and no one is more “right” than others. Because it doesn’t matter if you want to read all 24 hours or want to be social all the time. The most important thing is that you are having fun doing it. As a reader, a cheerleader, a stalker waiting for your turn … Or maybe two out of three. It’s the experience that matters and it can and will be different from time to time but it will keep teaching you new things, being an entry point to a community of book loving people, passionated readers … And then Dewey ends, you have to remember that you are not alone and that you and your reading counts just as much as anyone else. Talking about it with others can be your footsteps in the reading world, starting new experiences for others that will last for years or maybe even a lifetime.
Enjoy the read-a-thon, everyone.
Thank you so much, Katja, for such a touching, honest post. Dewey would be so happy to read it.