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My relationship with literature

So on Instagram I’ve been asking questions about what you’d like to know about me or what you’d like to read on the blog. Well, here’s topic number two: literature.

The original question topic suggested for the blog: “Literature and what it means to you.”

When I was a young kid…

So I have a funny relationship with literature. When I was a little kid, around the age of 4, I was making up my own stories, but because I couldn’t write yet, my dad had to write down what I told him. So I made little books that I’d staple together, with little paintings about the story. Then I’d leave empty spaced in the book where my dad had to write the text down.

Then I primary school, I started writing my own stories and drama plays, mostly by hand. But it were the 90s so computers were also on its way. I didn’t know how to type on computers until I was 12 I guess, so I told my friends to type down the stories I’ve made up. Yes, I have to admit, I’ve been always very strong willed and as I child I was kinda bossy, but hey, every kid has to learn, right?

So also in primary school, I started reading Harry Pottor. I think I’ve read the fifth book at least seven times and every time I had to cry when a character died. Besides Harry Pottor, I’ve started reading young adult books that had a mysterious element. Not in the way of science fiction or magical elements, but rather mysterious in the way of people’s behaviour. I really loved reading about intriguing characters, where at the end of the book you’d be sitting like “whaaaat, how could this be possible?”.

In secondary school

So during secondary school, I’ve started reading more real literature, but mostly from well-known Dutch writers. I was very much a perfectionist, so I’d always pick the hardest and most difficult books to read, to proof myself that I was smart enough. Yes very sad, but hey, everyone has its own insecurities and we all have to learn. A few books that I’ve really enjoyed reading and that are still stuck in my mind are (Dutch): Harry Mulisch en De ontdekking van de hemel, Johan Daisne en De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen and Jan Siebelink en Knielen op een bed violen.

In secondary school we’ve also discussed a lot of the Dutch literature history, which I though it very interesting. It’s so interesting to see how literary and art movements act and react on each other. It’s a like a wave.

Literature in university

Then in university, I had to read a lot. I’ve studied European languages and cultures with a focus on German and European literature. Obviously, I had to read many books from all kind of writers. But also I had to read many articles for my other subjects, so the reading for fun stagnated. I think during university, I’ve only read books in the summer holidays, because during the semesters, I did not enjoy it as I already had to read so much.

Literature now

University changed my whole perspective on reading. My whole childhood and young adult life I’ve been reading pretentious, intellectual and smart books, where now I love to read easy psycho-thrillers. But I only read these books in the German language, as I still like to challenge myself a little. It’s been quite some time I have read a book in Dutch, but there are still some literary artworks I’d like to read.

Literary movement I like the most

I’d like to highlight two movements that I think are the most interesting and that I’d recommend diving into if you like literature. This first being Naturalism (1850-1900). During this movement there has been an enormous focus on nature and how the human mind connects to that. Also the characters are often weak and imperfect, and determined for a mostly unfortunate fate. This movement has so many characteristics, that make works interesting to analyse.
The second movement I find very interesting myself is Postmodernism, where uncertainty is the main topic. Nothing is real and can there ever be objectiveness?

Main thoughts about literature

And to finish this article, I’d like to wrap up my last thoughts about literature.

First of all, I think reading books is very important, also as a child/teenager. It learns you to concentrate on one subject for a longer time, which will be helpful for the rest of your life. Another thing I think is good about reading, is learning how to resonate with characters and therefore people. Most of the times, good literature gives you an insight of the character’s behaviour and thinking process. It will learn you understand people and see things from different perspectives. The last thing why I think reading is important, is because I think it’s good to not look at a screen for once and to practice hobbies that are more relaxing for your brain. We are always in a rush and craving for more and crazier experiences, but reading will help us slow down.

So altogether, that’s my relationship with literature and reading.

That being said, what was your favourite book to read and do you like literature generally speaking?