How We Met

“Every Breath” by Nicholas Sparks, Harvard COOP.

The last time I cried

was a couple days ago, when I was reading Every Breath, a tearjerker romance novel by Nicholas Sparks. I always loved reading books, as a child, and asked for some books for my Christmas gifts. Even so, I did not expect myself to be into reading again, as an adult. 

It was right before Christmas,

in 2014, I was ready to go back to Seattle to celebrate holidays with my host family after having a reunion with my friend in New York. The traffic was so smooth that I arrived at the Newark airport a little more than thirty minutes earlier than my initial plan. I thought I was lucky then. However, l soon found out the fact that my flight had been delayed for three hours.

After passing the gate, I checked where I would be boarding, texted my host mom about my flight, and walked around the waiting area, including a small convenience store. I just wanted to browse mostly magazines and maybe some books. And then, there it was, I found a familiar book, The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks.

A couple of months

before my trip to New York, I asked my host mom about her favorite books. I wanted to read more in English because of my doubts on studying in college. A part of me thought my time in Kaplan, the language school I went to, had more positive impacts on my English literacy than my time in college. Therefore, I wanted to do something extra to strengthen my English. Reading English books, I thought, was a good way to begin.

My host mom had a variety of recommendations from cookbooks, to mystery, and romance. When I went to Barnes & Noble in Federal Way later, I somehow found myself in another section: Language. I ended up browsing study materials for English learners. I did not know if I would be able to read a novel in English.

Back to Newark Airport

in New Jersey, I reached The Best of Me and read the first two or three pages since I still had four hours Back to Newark Airport, I reached The Best of Me on the shelf. To be honest, I was not sure if I could enjoy novels in English. There would be more casual conversations than formal English textbooks. Will I be able to understand quotes or laugh at jokes? I was sure there would be more “What’s up, dude?” than “How are you? I am fine, thank you. And you?”

Fortunately, I was able to comprehend most of the first chapter of The Best of Me, mainly about the setting. Therefore, I bought the book and secured a seat close to the boarding gate. The next four hours passed incredibly fast. I did not want to move from the seat, or rather from Dawson and Amanda’s world. In fact, I was into the book already.

“That is an excellent choice!” I remember my host mom said to me on our way to their house. She was “That is an excellent choice!” I remember my host mom said to me on our way home. She was excited for me to read the rest of the story as much as I was.

One of the many things

I learned from The Best of Me was reading Nicholas Sparks’ books in public is not a good idea. In the middle of January, 2015, I was at Starbucks on Pacific Highway, knowing that the love story would come to an end soon. On a comfortable couch with my favorite hot green tea latte, I burst into tears. It was impossible for me to stop tears coming from my eyes. Good news was that I had plenty of paper towels to use. Bad news was that my green tea latte was no longer hot when I finally put the book down.

Before returning back to Japan in March, I bought five other Nicholas Sparks’ books. My check-in bag exceeded the weight limit, but staff agreed to keep it without me paying for the extra charge if I took something from the suitcase. Therefore, I took out a hoodie and tied around my waist. I also reached for The Lucky One, The Lucky One, another novel which would help me enjoy the sixteen-hour flight. Afterwards, I saw off the heavy check-in baggage full of my memories in Seattle and five books I knew I would love.

Whenever I visited Seattle, I purchased romance books by Nicholas Sparks and other authors. One time, my best friend said I was carrying “way too many books” in her definition. I was about to purchase only eight books then. Or maybe ten. Some Nicholas Sparks’s books, other Cecelia Ahern‘s, Sarah Dessen‘s…and Jojo Moyes‘s… For the record, I have not paid extra charge for my check-in baggage. Not yet.

This is how

we, Nicholas Sparks’ books and I, “met” for the first time. Not only did his and other romantic novels help me discover my passion for reading in English, they built my confidence in my reading. I am thankful for the Christmas gift I received without sending a card to Mr. Claus, unlike before.

P.S. I am also excited to “meet” Nicholas Sparks’s upcoming book, The Return, in September!

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