A journey of self discovery starts by reading poetry and philosophy
The perfect match
Published: Jun 15, 2023 11:18 PM
Editor's Note:

"Read 10,000 books, and your pen will be guided as if by the gods" is an ancient Chinese idiom that can be seen in students' textbooks. China's Ministry of Education has published an action plan to further promote reading among students across the nation. With new and diverse book recommendations, the reading scene is expected to be revived not only at schools, but also across society. To contribute to this endeavor, the Global Times launched "My Reading Life" essay contest for middle school students.

Please pick up a pen and share your stories with us at

Participants will be rewarded once the article has been selected.



Have you ever wished that you could remove the psychological lenses of your brain so you could recognize the depth and beauty in all stories? 

My reading experience, scattered across genres, time periods and styles in an effort to absorb as much meaning as I could, was a hidden and valuable bundle of secret ambitions, dreams, and flaws, too precious to bring to the surface and share with everyone else. I buried poetry, magical realism, and philosophy underneath the latest copy of stereotypical children's books, fearing that when I dragged the glittering serpent out of the deep, I'd realize that it struggled limply on the surface of the real world and the opinions in it. At the same time, I worried that locking that meaningful and messy cluster of intimacy away would leave it to decay unexpressed, accustomed to darkness and solitude. 

So, I resolved to wait until I could find the person with whom I could share all the imaginative and real-life adventures I had within a book. I searched for the one person in the world who was my fairy godmother, mentor, muse, best friend, soulmate, and equal parts fantasy fanatic and philosophy nerd. I did whatever I could to single myself out to this person just in case they were watching and looking for me. I wished that a part of my soul was visible outside of my body, so they would know me at first glance. The paper cuts on my hands from turning pages too quickly and the bookmark that was constantly clutched tightly in my fist suddenly became secret clues. I prayed that parts of my outer appearance would hint at the searching soul within, hoping that my stubborn insistence to read in the dark could be seen in the bags under my eyes, and that the messy handwriting on my wrists showed my urge to remember quotes forever. My favorite way of trying to reveal myself to this person was to take a book everywhere. I would lose myself in stories, fables, and legends in church services where I should have been paying attention, or underneath the table in a classroom, only to knock my head on the way up to try and answer the question my teacher asked. In response to sharp comments about paying attention, I would respond with a lecture about the educational benefits of reading.

Opening one's mind

However, books, to me, are not just a way of increasing your vocabulary or understanding of a language. They are a way of opening your eyes, mind and soul to people, experiences and ideas. Books are way of building a meaningful connection with someone you have never met, who may have lived 200,000 miles away or 200,000 years ago. They are a representation that our feelings, imagination, ideas and desires are truly meaningful, and that they are not some crude biological responses to our surroundings. Turning velvety pages after midnight taught me that it is not that words give us meaning; In fact, we give words meaning. We can lose our reality in a drowning spiral of magical worlds, fairy tale creatures and perfect love, but to take the perspective of judgmental adults in fantasy bookstores, what does reading such unrealistic books do for us? For me, books brought about an intense sense of awareness of the meaning of our world and our lives in it. Exposure to the drastic imagination of an author taught me to clearly see our world's blessings and its limitations. Reading made me feel the essence of humanity keenly, and allowed me to recognize our simultaneous significance and insignificance in a life we can only live once. 

This sharp sense of self-awareness did not just teach me more about the world around me, it also taught me more about myself, and my identity. Every character spoke to me, leaving an imprint of wisdom, knowledge, or advice on the last page. Each book was like a grain of sand on a beach, and I was the ocean. I read anything I could get my hands on, and with each wave, I devoured more profound knowledge. In exchange, I left tokens of my reading experience on the sand, some of which were recognized as shimmering gems, and others were left to flop about, struggling to survive, and be appreciated. I'm as grateful for the fish that scuffled on the sand as I'm for the shiny treasure that others learned from and loved, because both chiseled away my arrogance while building my confidence.

Finding yourself

As I was enlightened and entertained by Emily Bronte and Oscar Wilde, my secret person, who had slowly grown in confidence and visibility, creeped closer with each page I turned. 

I felt them approach, and I prepared to share with them the multitude of knowledge, wisdom, meaning, love, and beauty I had been exposed to through ink on paper. I got ready to learn from, to appreciate, to challenge, to laugh with and love that person. 

One day, when I had long since forgotten about my wild childhood dreams and was in a rush to get back to the book I had fell asleep reading, I woke up and I saw her in the mirror.

Thank you to every book that guided me on a journey of self-discovery, and led me to her.

The author is a student at the Ningbo British International School