Remembering the very first book you have ever read might be impossible.

Not for me. I do remember.

I remember the first book I read.

The very first book I read in English, a language that is not mine.

The book was Super Fudge by Judy Blume.

A second-hand copy was brought to me by my father, who found it while scouting one of the street markets in Zarqa, Jordan.

That was back in my home country of Jordan in the late ’80s, and finding a book in English was rare.

My dad was very proud of his found treasure and insisted that I should read it to improve my English.

“This is a rare book,” he told me. “I’m sure it was left by some expatriate. You can’t advance in life if you don’t know English.”

I hesitated a first.

It was a book in English, an impossible mountain to climb, thought my 11-year self. Eventually, I conquered my fear and devoured every single page of the book.

Ambivalence and appreciation

More than thirty years later, I found the same book at a Free Little Library in our suburban Maryland neighborhood. I immediately grabbed it, ran home, and showed it to my kids while telling them the story behind it.

They briefly looked at it and then put it aside. To them, there was nothing special about this book.

They were surrounded by hundreds of books in the land of abundance.

My kids’ ambivalence didn’t diminish the special bond I had with this book.

Thank you, SuperFudge, for teaching me that having little has its perks.

That having a modest upbringing makes you develop a special appreciation for many things that people take for granted, like books.