My Books Broke My Heart

I was very hesitant to buy any books in my first year in Canada. I only got the essential ones for my classes. I would even say that I was very angry at any book that I had to buy. 

To be honest, I did not want to get hurt by my books. 

I was very hesitant to buy any books in my first year in Canada. I only got the essential ones for my classes. I would even say that I was very angry at any book that I had to buy. 

To be honest, I did not want to get hurt by my books. 

Let’s start from the very beginning. Building a library from scratch is special. A library has the ability to take you on a journey through all the phases you went through in life. You grow, and you learn some amazing things along the way. Let’s say that you have Hunger Games or Twilight in your library. They never let you forget that you were once a teenager. I did not have those series because my mom would not let me read them, we had a good collection of world literature instead. (Oh look, even the lack of books in your library is a story on its own.) Anyways, I had an amazing set of Agatha Christie books in my library. Most of it was handed down to me from my sister. Some of it, I bought myself over time. I remember getting scared reading those murder mysteries. “And Then There Were None” made me shiver in my bed at nights. I was really young then; I remember finishing books so fast that my parents would have to hand me whatever book there was at home to read. That is probably how I ended up getting obsessed with the genre of murder mystery at the age of 9.

Great parenting tip: make your children reserve at least one shelf in their cupboard for books. That is what my mom did, and I am forever thankful for that. I had a library before I knew how to read. I made my mom read to me before I went to sleep every night. Yes… every night. She tells me that she was so happy when I learned how to read because it meant that she could finally stop reading the same stories over and over again. All of the children’s books from my sister’s library got transferred over to mine. And as I kept getting more and more books, we started moving my clothes from that cupboard so that I could have more empty shelves.

I started high school and met with the amazing world of academic books. Couldn’t believe that so much knowledge existed in the world. My teachers were giving meaning to the world around me. We read about economy, sociology, history… And oh man, there was no end to how many books you could cultivate. 

But then, we had to move away from my childhood house to a smaller apartment because times were changing. 

It meant that I had to give some books away because we wouldn’t have much space in the new apartment. It’s okay, how bad could it be right? I ended up crying. The books had reminded me of all the good times we had at that home. Found my childhood books and remembered the times I spent with my mom trying to learn how to read. Found some of my old English books and remembered how I used to keep a notebook of all the new words I had learned. Found books that I have never read and just bought because I thought that it would look cool in my library. A lifetime just hidden inside my cupboard like that, how dare my books make me sad? I chose the ones I wanted to keep, and the rest were donated. 

Life was good, I was cultivating more books as I go. I would use my pocket money to order books online. I gave away some old ones to make space for newer ones. I just loved the feeling of having a library of my own because it told my story. The story of someone who cherished learning. I spent a long time writing my story, which books I had would affect who I would become. 

But then, my parents had to move abroad because times were changing.

I would stay behind in Istanbul. But this meant that I had to say goodbye to most of my books because I did not have a home anymore. This time, it only hurt a little bit. In the end, if I could part with my parents, then why would some books matter? Some tears were shed, the unclarity of our situation got us all stressed. I said bye. They got on a plane.

I took the limited number of books to the dormitory I was going to stay in. I had stopped buying books at that point because I knew that I wanted to go to UBC. A year after my parents left, my university applications were done, I got my passport ready, got my Canadian visa approved… 

I was going to Canada knowing that I would not return to Turkey because times were changing.

I gave my books to my best friend at the time and told him to either donate or keep them. I didn’t care about my books at all this time. If I was able to part with the most amazing person I knew, then why would some books matter? Some tears were shed, we didn’t think much of the unclarity of the situation. I said bye. I got on a plane.

My parents and I came to Canada. I was extremely stubborn to not buy any books here because it reminded me of my library staying behind all the times I had to move. It reminded me of a home that I did not have. Reminded me of friends that I could not reach. My books made me angry. Like everything in my life, they were too heavy to carry around with me.

I am realizing now that it was my feelings that were too heavy to carry around, the books did not have a fault. I had decided that I was not going to have a library anymore. Like everything I have cultivated in my life, the books would always have to stay behind in case I had to leave again. 

A library means that you belong to a place. And I did not belong.

I was very hesitant to buy any books in my first year in Canada. I only got the essential ones for my classes. I would even say that I was very angry at any book that I had to buy.

To be honest, I did not want to get hurt by my books.

Over the past few years I have made some amazing friends and they made Vancouver home for me. Without realizing, I started frequenting book shops more. A voice called to me when there was a great bargain happening. It said: build a library, do it.

October 2020, Vancouver

This year, I realized that I open up more shelves to stock books in my small nano studio each month. I am not sure what affected this decision, but I have an idea. I am sure all of us who have moved at least once in their life knows how heavy books are, you simply can’t travel with them. I am reminded of this fact every single time my very good friend Rahma moves around (she moves a lot, don’t even get me started.)

It is funny but I think that what made me interested in a library again was seeing Rahma carry all her books with her when she travels to Dubai or Ottawa. Whenever she decides to travel, I sit with her and we choose which books she should carry. I try to stop her at five books maximum, she doesn’t have a limit. (And I am pretty sure she puts more than what we agreed for into her suitcase whenever I leave her place)

This made me realize that the weight that I could not carry around was not my books. Rahma carries them around everywhere right? The heavy weight was all the anger and sadness I had to carry every time myself or someone else got on a plane and left things behind. At the end of it all, my books leaving my life meant that the people I loved were leaving my life. My books didn’t hurt me. I just put too much meaning into them. Now that there is some healing happening 4 years after losing my homeland, I am building a library again. If I have to leave it all behind, oh well, that’s life.

And yeah, I’m not giving up.

Note: I honestly had no idea where it would go when I started writing this blog post. But eh, everything in life is political right? As always, shoot me a message if you have any issues regarding the content. Cheers.

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