How Books Taught Me to Appreciate

Please describe the factors and challenges that have most shaped your personal life and aspirations. How have these factors helped you to grow?


Moving homes is never fun, but the first time I stepped into our new neighborhood, my feelings could be best described as disorienting, if you want to be nice. The small, gray houses were a stark contrast to those found in my old suburban neighborhood.

Our old street was the kind featured in home-buying ads: an array of crisp, bright green lawns and attractive red-brick houses, many featuring gardens. But the most beautiful part of it was the library. I always looked forward to the Saturdays my mother would wrap her going-out scarf around her neck, push us into the car with tote bags clutched in our fists, and drive us out for an afternoon of reading aloud to each other. This was a family tradition, and I credit it for my lifelong love of reading. And yet, books couldn’t save me when my life changed in what seemed like an instant.

We were a comfortable middle-class family. My father co-owned a modest repair business outside of our city. He drove almost an hour to get there every morning, but it kept food in the belly of our quickly-growing family. We went on vacations, ate out often, and had two cars, same as the other families on our street. Naturally, it came as a shock when my father announced over dinner one day that his...

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