As readers, we all have a list of things we love and hate when it comes to books. We like prose or poetry, short stories or three-parts novels about Russian aristocracy in the 18th century. We prefer French existentialist writers, Dostoyevski or Tolstoy or none, romance novels or epic fantasy.
Or supernatural characters. Well, I love paranormal novels – either romances or urban fantasy or something else. But my absolute favorite – stories about vampires.
The story starts as any, I believe. I was a kid the first time I saw Dracula, a few years older when I read the book. Let us not forget Buffy The Vampire Slayer – my devotion to eternal bloodsuckers was set in stone with that TV show.
And then came Anne Rice. Interview with a Vampire gave me nightmares, but I loved it. During my first year in high school, I randomly found Vampire Lestat in the library. I can not even remember how many times my sister and I reread it. From that point onward my encounters with these fictional predators happened only through movies. Queen of the Damned, Underworld, Blade, From Dusk Til Dawn… I lived unaware of the existence of so many books starring Lestats and Spikes.
Until my final year at university.
I was a literature student which means I read a lot. A lot. It is a dream, I know, but after four years of reading what was in the syllabus, all these academic discussions, I burned out and took a break from reading that lasted several months. Even my final paper suffered for it because it took me a year to finish it. It was the worst case of a reading slump I’ve ever had until this day. Things changed in the summer of 2009 when I went to visit my grandparents for a week, something I did every summer since I was a kid. Those days were magical for me when I was growing up, not just for the fact that I was spoiled rotten, but also that I could read until early morning hours if I wanted to, there was a full bookshelf in the guestroom and there was no school. Well, that summer of 2009 I must have remembered the feeling so I picked up the book my sister brought with her, something she borrowed from a friend a week before.
“I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had a reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would have not imagined it like this.”
The first line and I was hooked. Come on, if you do not know it, how can you even call yourself a reader?
Yes, it was Twilight. Amra, 24-year-old literature and linguistics student, a teacher in training had discovered young adult books about vampires. I am still waiting for my teachers to come rushing to take away my diploma.
I had to wait to go back home to read the other three books in the saga. I read them within two days. I stopped only to eat, use the bathroom and get a couple of hours of sleep. Internet is a beautiful thing – it didn’t take me long to realize that I had just scratched the tip of the iceberg and that there are hundreds of books like Twilight out there. Only problem? Almost none of them had been translated into my language. So I started reading English books. Morganville Vampires and Sookie Stackhouse, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy… But I also discovered other young adult and adult books.
I am forever grateful to vampires and Stephenie Meyer for getting me on the path that would help me improve my English, discover Goodreads and meet many friends there, start blogging. They showed me that it is okay to read and love books that are not always “approved by academics”.
A decade later, it makes me happy that I got to witness the evolution of the young adult genre. And yes, I will read it even when I get old like my grandmother.