I didn't have a lot of friends growing up. I found solace and friendship in books and characters I made up in my head, and enjoyed having fun with in my head. I was alone, but I was never lonely.  

It was of course, no surprise that one of the things my mom's friends always asked me, or her when they know how much I'm acing my English exams, is how their children can do the same. My answer then, and my answer now is to read. I couldn't imagine a life where I didn't read. I am always, at any point in time in the middle of some book and looking for the next to read. I don't ever want to stop learning from books.

Here's an excerpt from one of my favourite books, The Velveteen Rabbit. It's true blue literature, stuffed with beautiful words and thoughtful experiences, long before writers coddled children's minds with sparkly vampires. If you haven't read The Velveteen Rabbit, here's why you should pick it up:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn’t how you are made," said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, “or bit by bit?"

"It doesn’t happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand."