Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why I Fancy Books...

Why Do I Fancy Books?

That's an interesting question, don't you think?

Most of us book lovers don't stop to think and question our love of books. We just assume that we've always loved books and we cannot seem to understand why everyone else doesn't seem to love books as much as we do. I can remember struggling to learn to read when I was younger. No one seemed to have the time or patience to teach me. I went to a government school with about 40+ children in each class and the teacher did not have enough time or energy to attend to the needs of all students. So, much of my reading education was a solitary activity. I can remember sitting for hours on end in the evenings after school, trying to read the newspapers (I loved the Entertainment section back then) and one particular word that I had difficulty with was the word "producer". I never was sure how to pronounce it and I felt silly for asking. When I did eventually ask someone how to pronounce the word while we watched the rolling credits at the end of a movie, they could not provide me with the answer. I found this quite strange. It was only a while later that I'd realised that the person I'd asked, despite her advanced age, was illiterate and could not even read the word "producer", let alone pronounce it. This stunning realisation made me stop beating myself up about not being able to read or pronounce words very well at the age of 6 and made me realise just how lucky I was to be able to read at all at that tender age, when someone who was probably ten times my age had never even learned the alphabets.

My mum has always been my inspiration for reading. Growing up with a hearing deficit, she found solace and comfort (and some level of stability and understanding, I imagine) within the pages of books. She was known for being this quiet little girl who would lug around a book wherever she went (even when visiting family) and would find a quiet corner to sit down, pull out her hearing aid to block out the distracting sounds and disappear into another world. Growing up, I realised just how unusual our mutual love of reading was, when we'd go to the local library and instead of carrying normal-sized book bags and two library cards, we would carry a big, black bin liner and at least 5 different library cards to borrow books. We also had library cards at three different libraries, one of which was a library back in my mum's home town- so we'd never be short of books even while on holiday in that little town in the middle of nowhere. We would usually borrow a combined load of 35+ books with each visit to the library and the bulk of the books would be my mum's and- not surprisingly- she'd have them all read before the month was up and our next library visit came around. A lifetime of reading has resulted in an ability to read up to three books in one night and possibly finish an entire series of books in just under two days. I'm so proud of her!

Alas! I am the slow reader- the one who loves books, hoards them just as much as my mother does, has spent way too much time in libraries and book stores, subscribes to every single book mailing list out there and dreams of hosting a library sleepover or book camp some day- and yet, I find that I cannot read books fast enough to meet my reading goals for the year. There are so many great books out there and so many of these have been sent my way based on recommendations of friends and giveaway wins, but I can't seem to get through them all in time. My mum says the secret is to know when to skip and skim the boring parts. If she'd not interested in a book, she'll put it down and refuse to return to it or she'll skim through the rest of the pages to get a general idea of what happens and will leave it at that. I've tried skimming and it just doesn' t work for me. I feel like the true essence of the novel is lost if I don't pay attention to every single word and thought expressed on each and every page. I know that makes me seem like I suffer from OCD or something, but that's just me. If I read something, I'd like to read it well or not read it all!

I usually have about five books going at any given time and, being the slow reader that I am, one would imagine that I'd be intimidated by thick tomes and stay away from heavy reads, but that's not the case. For some reason, it's always the thick books which find their way into my hands first. If not the thick, 600+ page books, then it's usually a very long series that I get caught up in - which results in me neglecting the other books on my shelf for a very long time. Of course, I have to take into account the fact that I'm a postgraduate student with very little time on my hands and too many other compulsory course readings to get through before devoting time to my leisure reading. I'm often asked by friends, family and fellow classmates (all of whom happen to be significantly faster readers but do not read for pleasure) where I find the time to read in between my studying and extra-curricular activities. The response I often give is that "when you truly love something, you make time for it". The more I think about it, the more I realise just how true it is.

Just to show you some of my favourite authors and their books which fuelled my love of reading while growing up...

Roald Dahl

James and the Giant Peach: A Children's StoryMatilda

Carolyn Keene
(I only recently learned that's a pseudonym for a male author and experienced a horrible sense of betrayal)

The Secret in the Old Attic (Nancy Drew, #21)Password to Larkspur Lane (Nancy Drew #10)The Mystery of the 99 Steps (Nancy Drew, #43)

J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter Box Set (Harry Potter, #1-7)
Current Favourites...


Gone With the Wind

The Alchemist


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