I remember that beginning to read it was exciting to me. The words and phrases jumped off the page: the type of book where pages are uneven and they smell nice. I found it tucked away in a corner of the library of my Jr. High. I was twelve years old the first time I read Emma by Jane Austen.
It was winter time when I started, and for my book mark I used a piece of green wire that had been keeping Christmas lights held together inside their box. I remember that it took me some time to finish the novel, but I enjoyed every minute of it. There were piles of snow outside, it being Christmastime, and somehow it all fit together in a very wonderful way.
The words were small and after being lost in Emma’s story for hours my eyes would be tired in the best way. It was the first classic novel I ever read. Perhaps more than anything I remember the way that reading this story made me feel. It made me feel beautiful, educated. Classic. It opened the door to a world that I wanted to touch.
I remember sitting in class, because at the time we had a class each day shorter than all the others which was completely devoted to reading. I was surrounded by dozens of other students and busy teachers, all lost in their own worlds, and I was wrapped in the world of Emma Woodhouse.
I had always enjoyed reading, but this experience was something else. To this day I look back at it this time in my life with a degree of fondness that I can’t really describe or hold, but I think that is one of the reasons it was so enjoyable.
If you were to ask me what my favorite book is, I will always say Pride and Prejudice with no hesitation at all. But there is something special about Emma, about the whole experience of reading it for the first time and taking a step into a completely different world than the one I’d always been surrounded by.
I knew I’d never get the experience of reading Emma for the first time again, in the middle of winter, and marking it with a piece of green wire.