Why I Love Reading Books

I think it's no surprise that I love books. More than a lot of things and many people in fact. But why exactly do I love papers with ink on them so much?

As a kid, I've always liked reading even before I realized I did. I buried my nose into all kinds of books.

Mainly because I enjoyed learning, and I still do. I'm all for gaining as much knowledge as I can. I especially want to know more about subjects that fascinate me.

Being able to escape from the real world was always welcome for me. Sometimes we just need to get away, be distracted for a little while.

At some point, I wanted to write my own books. As much as I love reading other people's stories, there's nothing quite like telling your own.

Of course, I love words. That's why I'm a writer. Reading books ignited my passion for writing stories.

In elementary school, I had a much smaller vocabulary. Younger me wasn't as confident with the English language as I am now, even more so when it came to writing in it.

I can still recall a memory of myself in class. I always asked this much smarter student how to spell certain words I didn't know at the time.

Interestingly enough, my first language isn't English. I grew up in a Cantonese speaking household. Back then, my parents didn't speak much English. So for several years during my childhood, I felt more comfortable with Cantonese, my mother tongue. After all, it was what I spoke at home.

Only after reading a bunch of English books did my communication skills improve. Over the course of my elementary schooling, I saw my grades in Reading, Writing, and Oral Communication increase little by little.

Nowadays, I still crave exposure to new ideas and beliefs. I may not agree with everything, but at the very least, I get a chance to see the perspectives of others. More importantly, I try to understand.

I owe writers and authors a lot. They keep inspiring me to speak, to share.

Frankly, I have little desire to spend my money on anything that is not a good book.

How To Write And Win Essay Based Scholarships

I'm not an expert by any means, but I've written my share of essays for school and scholarships.

These are my tips to increase your chances of standing out and possibly winning a scholarship.

Apply for them.

You can't win if you don't apply. Was it Einstein who said, "common sense isn't always common practice" or was it another intelligent human being? Either way, the point stands.

Brainstorm ideas.

You need to write about something. So having a couple topics to explore can't hurt. Obviously, you'll want to pick the best one and run with it.

Cut the unoriginal.

Be different, interesting. After all, sometimes you're judged on creativity or originality.

Don't repeat the essay prompt.

I'm not keen on telling people what not to do, but imagine reading 999 entries that started off by restating the prompt.

Easy reading means hard editing.

Give yourself enough time to edit your essay. At the very least, put it aside for a few days, so when you come back to your work, you see the words with fresher eyes. Even several hours between writing and editing can do wonders.

Follow the rules.

Do what's asked. Provide any necessary documentation. You might be disqualified otherwise.

Grind through it.

At times, you may feel tempted to give up. Keep going. You'll better than you think.

Help yourself.

You want to avoid sabotaging your own entry in any way. Never overlook a small detail or do something that's the opposite of smart. Answer what's asked. Fill out your contact information accurately. Review your submission for grammar and spelling mistakes.

I'm realizing this post isn't all that helpful. Go figure.

Maybe one day Herminia Chow will create useful content that isn't just spewing common sense. Today is not that day.

A Q&A About Book Genres

Questions. Answers. Book genres.

What’s your favourite genre?

That’s a tough one. As of right now, I have to say thriller. Any type. Legal, medical, even political. I’m not the biggest fan of politics, even though I took a class in high school. Shudders.

Least favourite?

Romance. Or anything remotely resembling it. Thanks but no thanks. Maybe when I have a boyfriend, I won’t roll my eyes while reading romantic scenes, but I can’t make any guarantees.

What genre(s) do you write?

Realistic fiction because contemporary young adult is all I know how to write.

Which ones do you read?

Almost everything. You name it, I probably read it, unless the book involves two main characters falling in love within the space of two pages.

What do you want to read more of?

Historical fiction hands down. I don’t read enough about history, but whenever I do, I tend to enjoy the story.

Read less of?

Chick lit romance. Duly noted.

The first genre you fell in love with?

Realistic fiction in general. I went through middle grade chapter books like a girl with nothing better to do. Because I had nothing better to do.

Any you’ve fallen out of love with?

I used to read manga and comics. I haven’t fallen out of love with them per se, but perhaps I’ve fallen more in love with other genres. Maybe I’ll pick them up again in my retirement.

The genre associated with your favourite book or author?

Young adult fantasy and science fiction. I’ve come to appreciate these books more than I used to when I was a narrow-minded kid.

The genre associated with your least favourite book or author?

I kid you not, it’s a young adult fantasy and science fiction. Huh.

The most hit or miss genre in your opinion?

This might explain my two previous answers. Fantasy and science fiction by far. The author either hits the mark or misses it completely for me.

An underrated genre?

All of them. Sports fiction specifically.

Most challenging genre to read or write?

An epic fantasy because I don’t have the chops to pull that sort of book off. Exhibit A: what’s world-building…

As always, I’d love to know your answers in the comments below. Or you could write a blog post answering the questions above.

Completing The 30 Books Challenge

1. A book you love:

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

I love this book with all my heart. And I’m trying to make other people love it too.

2. A book you can’t forget:

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

My grade five teacher recommended it to me. Bless her for doing so.

3. A book that motivated you:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

King makes me want to be a better writer.

4. A book that made you think about life:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

It’s thought-provoking.

5. A book with a colour in its title:

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I adore Brown and his brain.

6. A book with a number in its title:

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

I had to read it for school, but I liked the modernized zombie tale.

7. A book everyone needs to read:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Timeless classic. What more can I say?

8. A book that was recommended to you:

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

A good friend of mine made me pick this one up.

9. A book you didn’t expect to like as much as you did:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Because of the hype surrounding Maas and her work, I thought I wasn’t going to like her novels. But I enjoyed ToG so very much.

10. A book that made you cry:

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

It didn’t directly make me cry, but I was holding the book while I cried. Does that count?

11. A book that reminds you of your childhood:

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I was a naïve child.

12. A book you have reread or would reread:

Thirst No. 4 by Christopher Pike

I reread the fourth book prior to reading the fifth in order to jog my memory. The second read through was just as good, if not even better than the first.

13. A book that was turned into a movie:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I read the book before I watched the movie. If you know me at all, you know I’m firmly in the camp that the book was obviously better.

14. A book you wish was turned into a movie or TV show:

The Escape by David Baldacci

This needs to be made into a movie.

15. A book you couldn’t put down:

Endgame: The Calling by James Frey

Action-packed fun.

16. A book that kept you up at night:

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I remember finishing the novel late at night and being blown away by the ending.

17. A book you travelled with:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

I carried the novel in my bag with a water bottle I didn’t close properly. Safe to say water and paper don’t mix unless you’re painting with watercolours.

18. A book you wanted to toss across the room:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Because of how it ends.

19. A book you received as a gift:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

From my one and only older brother. Thanks.

20. A book you gave or would give as a gift:

The Elements of Style by E. B. White and William Strunk Jr.

I would give it as a gift, especially to someone who likes writing.

21. A book you think is underrated:

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

I don’t see or hear many people talk about Norris and her books.

22. A book that lived up to its hype:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I didn’t think it would, but it did.

23. A book that broke your heart:

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

It was my first Picoult novel. I’m happy to say it was not the last. I really felt for the characters in this one.

24. A book that restored your faith in humanity:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Young, awesome characters tend to restore my faith.

25. A book with a pretty cover:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

It’s my aesthetic.

26. A book that reminds you of summer:

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The novel takes place in the summer.

27. A book that brings back good memories:

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Technically it’s a play I performed with some of my best friends in high school.

28. A book that makes you happy:

Nevermore by James Patterson

I enjoyed the entire series.

29. A book you will never get tired of talking about:

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I could go on and on about this gem.

30. A book you wish you wrote:

Carrie by Stephen King

If I had to be honest, I wish I wrote every novel King wrote. Carrie is no exception.


This post contains many affiliate links to Amazon. If you buy through them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

My Writing Journey

I don’t remember the day I learned to pick up a pencil and put it to paper. Oh, how I wish I did. Being able to write changed my life.

I’m beyond grateful for getting an education. Because of it, I can read and write not just my name but also anything I want.

Before I fell for languages, English especially, I enjoyed and even excelled in mathematics. Mainly because it was so simple, straightforward. It was black and white. You were wrong or right.

Early on, I did better in math than in reading, writing, or oral communication. But throughout elementary, I must have read a boat load of books in my free time. Somewhere along the way my love for reading manifested into something more.

I went back to visit my elementary school teachers, and one of them still remembers how I used to write stories all the time. Although I don’t remember writing a lot as a kid, I recall reading anything in sight. 

In grade 8, I took on a full-length novel. Granted it took me about 2 years to finish the first draft because I took extended breaks along the way. But one of my proudest accomplishments to date is finishing that novel. It come out to 70,000+ words.

I started taking writing more seriously when I was in high school. Especially after I entered my first writing contest when I was in grade 9. I must have been about 13 years old, going on 14. 

I never thought twice about the contest until I heard back from them. Actually my English teacher got the news first because I put her name down and the high school I attended. So she pulled me aside during my math class. I thought I got in trouble. Little did I know my world was about to be rocked. 

She showed me the congratulatory letter with my name on it. I almost didn’t believe her. I never told my teacher that I had entered the contest. Come to think of it, I didn’t tell anyone.

Not only did I get the short piece published, I placed in the top ten of my age division, which happened to be the highest honour for that particular competition.

Later, I applied for my high school yearbook committee, specifically the journalism department. I got rejected. 

I think I owe that yearbook team a big thank you. Had it not been for them, I think I wouldn’t have started blogging, at least not as early as I did anyway.

Out of boredom, I created a blog in April 2013 at 15 years old. I guess I thought blogging would be the logical next step. 

I made it a habit to write every day in early 2015. Took me long enough.

I also got into journaling that same year on my birthday (August 22). I love having a place to write down my thoughts and feelings, worries and concerns. I know no one will read it. And so I can be brutally honest. 

I’m not sure when exactly I decided I wanted to be a writer. But I continue to hope I’ll be able to write for a living. I’d want nothing more.

In the past and even now, but more so back then, writing was my escape. I loved being able to get away from the real world that sucked at the best of times, and go somewhere else for a while.

At some point I loved stories so much I wanted to tell my own. I wanted to share my story. Which is why I write and blog and do what I do every day.

I think I love the freedom that comes with creating something from nothing. Writing is the one thing I have complete control over. I control what happens and when. I write on my own terms, not anyone else’s. 

In many ways, words changed my life for the better. I don’t know where I’d be or who I would’ve become had it not been for writing. 

Regardless of whether or not I become a published writer, I hope I never stop writing. On my own terms. To please myself. For my sake. Above all, I hope I write for the rest of my life because it makes me happy, happier than anything else in the world.

30 Books Challenge

1. A book you love.
2. A book you can’t forget.
3. A book that motivated you.
4. A book that made you think about life.
5. A book with a colour in its title.
6. A book with a number in its title.
7. A book everyone needs to read.
8. A book that was recommended to you.
9. A book you didn’t expect to like as much as you did.
10. A book that made you cry.
11. A book that reminds you of your childhood.
12. A book you have reread or would reread.
13. A book that was turned into a movie.
14. A book you wish was turned into a movie or TV show.
15. A book you couldn’t put down.
16. A book that kept you up at night.
17. A book you travelled with.
18. A book you wanted to toss across the room.
19. A book you received as a gift.
20. A book you gave or would give as a gift.
21. A book you think is underrated.
22. A book that lived up to its hype.
23. A book that broke your heart.
24. A book that restored your faith in humanity.
25. A book with a pretty cover.
26. A book that reminds you of summer.
27. A book that brings back good memories.
28. A book that makes you happy.
29. A book you will never get tired of talking about.
30. A book you wish you wrote.

Describe Your Dream Library And Reading Space

Growing up, I fell in love with every aspect of interior design. Before I wanted to be a writer, I wished to work in real estate, preferably as a designer or stager of homes. So I couldn’t wait to buy my own house and decorate it however I wanted. I knew my dream home would include a library or some sort of reading space. More importantly, I would design that room to represent who I am, so it could serve as the perfect place to read and escape from the real world.

Recently, I was inspired by Arhaus to create a post showing my dream reading space and library. They design home furnishings as well as other products. I drew some inspiration from their website. Be sure to check out their Instagram and Pinterest for more ideas.

Afterwards, I decided to make a few collages of some things I would like to have in my ideal room. Enjoy!

My dream library and reading space would include:

  • Pendant lighting
    • Although I prefer reading in natural light, good artificial lighting is a must. I can’t read if I can’t see.
  • A coffee table
    • I don’t drink coffee, but I’d like to have a place for my glass of water. Better yet I’d leave snacks lying around. That way I wouldn’t have to leave my reading room for hours.
  • Bookshelves
    • I’ve always wanted floor to ceiling shelves full of books. Even then I’m not sure I’ll have enough space.
  • An armchair
    • As much as I like the idea of reading while standing up, my laziness will inevitably kick in. I need a nice seat because finding a comfortable reading position is already enough of struggle on its own.

For more inspiration, try browsing the pendant lighting and dining room tables page.

  • A pretty view
    • For some reason I really like the idea of looking out a bay window to see a beautiful view of the city.

How do you envision your ideal library or dream reading space?

Advice For Aspiring Writers 

I love giving bad writing advice. 

  • When you want to quit, remember why you started.
  • You don’t have to get your story right the first time. Or the fifteenth.
  • Your piece should be as long as it needs to be. No more. No less.
  • Read what you want, when you want, where you want. Just read something.
  • Write often. Even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Turn off your inner critic while writing. Turn on the critic while editing. 
  • Let that idea in your head make it into the paper. A bad page is better than a blank one. 
  • Have fun with the first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. First drafts are supposed to suck. Editing exists for a reason.
  • Get better and better with every failure. Not trying is worse than failing.
  • Adjust. Change what doesn’t work. Improve what does.
  • Stop worrying. You’re wasting time you’ll never get back.
  • Make the most of what you have. Even and especially when you don’t have much. 
  • Keep learning. Don’t ever stop learning.
  • Live your life. Then relive your life through writing. 
  • Never settle for anything less than your best. Why do anything if you aren’t going to give it your all?

I also love soliciting good writing advice.

Confessions Of A Reader

I confess my reading habits, so you can read my confessions.

  • I don’t always feel like reading. I love a good story as much as the next person. But when I’m mentally exhausted and my eyes are struggling to stay open, I’d prefer to do something that requires less effort on my end. I’m a sensitive person in every regard, my eyes are no exception. 
  • I haven’t read Harry Potter. Ditto for a lot of other popular novels. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post on why I haven’t read HP. Long story short, I blame J.K. Rowling for everyone and their dog butchering my name (Herminia).
  • I try to avoid eBooks or audiobooks. Books are great, don’t get me wrong. There’s just something about the physical copy of a novel that I love. And screen fatigue is a real problem. Also, listening to a story isn’t the same as reading it. I grew up being able to hold a book in my hands and smelling it, turning the pages. I want to grow old doing that too. Imagine me as a old woman with gray hair and bad eyes, squinting at tiny words on pieces of paper.

Confess away if you have anything you need to get off your chest. I promise not to pass judgement.

How To Remember What Books You’ve Read

Unless you have a perfect memory, it’s tough to remember all the books you’ve read. But how can you keep a record of everything your eyes have pored over or skimmed? 

You want to remember the texts you read, don’t you? Imagine thinking you finished a book but not being entirely sure you did. It almost feels like a bookshelf falling to the ground.

Here are ways to remember the amazing, terrible, and mediocre books you’ve read. 

Use Goodreads. 

Goodreads is a godsend, especially since you can access it on a computer, laptop, or smartphone. I can’t believe I took nearly 18 years to make an account. If you’re looking for an online website where you can track books you’ve read and what you want to read next, get on Goodreads.

Keep a reader notebook. 

On the other hand, who doesn’t love using a physical notebook to record all the books they’ve read. I write down the author and title along with when I started and finished the text. I also tried getting into journaling about the books I’ve read to help myself with writing reviews after I’ve finished reading something. But so far, I don’t find myself reaching for that journal very often. Habits are hard to build.

Create an Excel spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets are fun, doubly so if they’re colourful. If you don’t want to make a Goodreads account but want a digital log, an Excel sheet might work well for you.

How do you remember what you read?