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Our Reading Lives

Why Libraries Matter

Carina Pereira

Staff Writer

Carina Pereira, born in ‘87, in Portugal. Moved to Belgium in 2011, and to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 2019. Avid reader, changing interests as the mods strikes. Whiles away the time by improvising stand-up routines she’ll never get to perform. Books are a life-long affair, audiobooks a life-changing discovery of adulthood. Selling books by day, writer by night. Contact

This is a guest post from Carina Pereira, born in ’87, in Portugal. Moved to Belgium in 2011. A collector of owl-shaped things, and a stubborn, but not very gifted, guitar apprentice. Whiles away the time by improvising stand-up comedy routines she’ll never get to perform. Books are a life-long affair, audiobooks a recent lover. Ravenclaw. Maid by day, writer by night.

I started reading on a regular basis when I was about ten years old. Maybe because there were never many books around the house (though my mum told me many tales from her childhood, passed on from generation to generation) I developed a fascination for them. I guess my mum’s stories created the roots of what would soon become a fierce love for books and storytelling.

The first “actual” book that I read, without any drawings, just long sentences, was the result of a crime: I stole it. At the time I didn’t see it as stealing; my cousin had an adventure book laying around, which she didn’t really care about, so I borrowed it… and I never returned it. Up until this day, I still have that copy in my possession, and I even went as far as writing my name on it, claiming that, should it be lost, I was the owner, and it should be returned to the following address (my address, of course). When I was ten and moved to a different school, which had a library, I found the rest of that collection of adventure books, and I took to read every single one I could get my hands on. At home, it was not long before I started being surprised with books at Christmas or at birthdays, because books were expensive, but they were all I wanted. My parents couldn’t afford to give me all the books I longed for, so they were saved for special occasions.

My school’s library set an important path in my life: with no expenses involved, they allowed me to read as much as I needed to, and that led me to a life devoted to books and, therefore, to more education and — I say it with no doubt — empathy. They presented me with different worlds, they allowed me to escape reality when it was too much to deal with. Eventually, I started writing my own stories and building my own plots. Without a library, I wouldn’t have been able to buy books, and that might have changed me in ways I can’t imagine. I grew up with books and stories, and I can’t reason a life without them in it.

Even as a teenager, I still got books from my city’s public library, and I am lucky to say that I always had a place to go, where I could get my bookish needs in check.

Libraries are important because, in a world where the capital is so unfairly divided, those who can’t afford books still deserve a chance to learn, a chance to find solace in new worlds and stories, a chance to dream.