I am proud to call myself a nerd. I may have given up wearing eyeglasses for 11 years thanks to an expensive LASIK surgery that I got before but in my heart I have always seen myself as the socially awkward introvert with thick eyeglasses.

My love affair with books started when I was really young. I started as most children would. My parents taught me the ABCs and I learned to read sentences in school. I always volunteered to read in front of the class. When I discovered how easy it was to visualize in my head what the words meant, there was no stopping me.

I got into Filipino comic books. They were kick ass back then and the writers were celebrities in their own rights. I saved up my allowance to buy those comic books from the old lady that sold them near the jeepney terminal. I read them so many times poring over the words and images. Most were probably not appropriate for my age that time particularly the horror genre ones that made me deathly afraid and believe that ghosts and elementals exist.

I read my sister’s copy of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo when I was in Grade 5. It was that time that I decided my hero is Andres Bonifacio and not Jose Rizal. I do not think that “the pen is mightier than the sword” is always applicable. Andres Bonifacio kicked more ass that Rizal.

Then came Filipino novelette. My father does not approved of those and calls them trash but it was my first venture into reading without pictures and drawings. Then came tween/teen novels like Sweet Valley High and Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? series that infiltrated our tiny high school.

I was a high school sophomore when we went to a classmate’s house to practice for a play as part of a homework given to us. I saw her mom’s collection of books and I was mesmerized. They were thick and had pictures of couples on the cover. I borrowed one and read it in three days. It was definitely an R-18 book and I “discovered” a lot of things that I shouldn’t have at that age. I didn’t return the book. I read it maybe five times more over the course of several years. It started me to really get into reading fiction. It has too much sentimental value so I kept it.

I read during classes. It happened a lot of times that I would get caught by the teacher and given a warning. I read during recess and lunch breaks in our very busy canteen. I didn’t mind the noise. I was in my own world while reading. It was even described in our yearbook as a bookworm. For me, to be called a bookworm is a compliment. I am that kind of nerd.

I felt there were too many books that I want to read and there was so little time. I became a power reader. I could read a thick book in three days stopping only to eat, sleep and the occasional bathroom breaks. It drove my parents crazy because I would neglect my household chores or sleep really late. I lost track of time. I would often stay up reading and only stop when the sun starts to light up the morning sky.

Reading fast and absorbing what I have read was a big advantage when I took up BS Political Science at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. We couldn’t afford the expensive textbooks so I would borrow from my classmates and read before class starts. Even though we were assigned pages and pages to read for our assignment, I could finish reading in a few minutes and be prepared for recitation during class.

When I entered the military, I changed my preference from long, boring adult novels to children and young adult (YA) literature. I face to much reality with my line of work already. YA literature was an escape. A different world filled with heroic youths overcoming all odds and saving the world. Utopia and dystopia became a mainstay in my vocabulary. I love the fantastical and the magical. They are dealing with adult problems but the way they were written was light to read so it would never lay too heavily on the reader.

I worship Lord of the Rings. I discovered it way before all the hype it got from the movie. I found a really old book at the back of the college library covered in dust and totally forgotten. It was a really old edition that it was in one book unlike the newer editions that they divided it into three. It doesn’t even have it’s own barcode so the librarian cannot scan it and save it to my name. She just wrote my name down so I had no choice but to return it eventually.

Then came Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Disc World, The Kane Chronicles, Percy Jackson, Ender’s Game and Ender’s Saga, Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, a lot of vampire and werewolf stories on the side. I still read the occasional PG-13 books especially those written by Anne Rice, James Patterson, Dan Brown, George RR Martin, etc.

I will never stop reading. I may have turned to e-books and probably damaging my eyes more but I will never stop. I actually have to wear eyeglasses again now although that was expected according to my ophthalmologist. And if I lose my eyesight, I will learn how to read braille and read and read and read.

I am a nerd and I am proud of it.