The fact that my dad used to read stories to me and my three siblings meant that I was drawn to reading from a very young age. There were times when he would read us five or six books in one night just to accommodate our pleas for “one more story”. He would also take me and my brother to Half Price Books, a store dedicated to discounted books. Its library-like appearance served as the perfect setting for me to learn to seek out, choose and discover new genres. It became the place where I would spend hours sorting through countless novels and stories to take home and enjoy.

My dad not only encouraged me to read, he even paid me the occasional visit at school to read aloud books like The Giving Tree and hand out little reminders to me and my classmates to read. On one occasion, my dad even convinced my grandfather to fly in on a jet all the way from Washington D.C. to read The Cat in the Hat dressed as the protagonist while acting out the lines. It was so hilarious! These were the memories that lay the foundation to my experiences as a reader and fortified my passion for investing my time in a book.

Venu Gopal Amaravathi story

While I enjoyed reading, I was also fond of creating stories of my own. I even authored a hardcover at just ten! It was titled The Adventures of Ash Ketchum, a story based on the exploits of the eponymous Pokémon master. It goes without saying that it wasn’t the most interesting book around. However, I felt immensely proud the day I carried the book around the school as a “published author”. This sparked my interest in professional writing and I began penning down more short stories. I found a lot of inspiration in books like Ender’s Game and The Maze Runner. I was often discouraged on the grounds that these books were beyond the comprehension skills for my age group, but my impressive Lexile score meant that this was never a deterrent to me. That said, I did need a written letter from my parents authorizing me to borrow these books from the library!

That year, my summer vacation saw me read through the The Hunger Games within five days. I must admit, that experience changed my perspective on everything. I began seeing and appreciating the little things in life. It felt like my mind was constantly working on a story all the time. I then went on to read the Harry Potter series and even completed The Maze Runner. It was only after reading these books that I realized how diverse the world of books was. It gave me an opportunity to deviate from the norm and create an exciting “second life” to let loose. Without books, I honestly don’t know where I’d be.


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