Setting the remote control down, I turned to pick up my latest read. Candy for my thoughts. The box no longer entertains me as much as it once used to during the F•R•I•E•N•D•S era. Gone are the days when I’d look forward to sitting in one place for half an hour without the distraction of my mobile. Staring at nothing but a gleaming screen.
I’ve grown up around books. My earliest memories begin with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and my work of art scribbles all over the pages. I’d skim through the whole book in minutes, if not seconds. Each page was filled from top to bottom in illustrations and just two lines of text that were merely read. I’d either memorise the words or make the story up as I went. Pictures over time gradually decreased until they were no longer there.
I remember my early trips to the local library, housed in a Grade II building, a redolent of Britain. I would accompany my sister. Watch on as she’d pull out several books from the shelves and carry her wobbly stack over to a large wooden table. There she’d skim through each one and create two piles; take outs and put backs. The chosen pile would then be handed to a smiling Liberian ready to be stamped out and proudly hauled home. I followed her until I got my very own card that went missing all too often, each one was put to very good use. My first 10 minutes of entering the library were always spent standing amid floor to ceiling aisles. Gawping at all the rows of books promising me new adventures. I’d interweave between overshadowing cabinets. Enchanted by curiosity, wondering where I should begin.
My weekends, after school and rainy days, were spent looking through those familiar replete shelves and finding quiet little corners to retreat to. I would flick through books with folded corners and add a few of my own. A couple of pages deep and I’d find myself lost in another world written by a non-fiction author. Concentrating closely on the words, I’d mute out my surroundings. Hearing my name being called in an almost faint whisper would, unfortunately, bring me back to the reality of me sitting on the library floor. I’d ask just one more page. Those books, however, were temporarily given a new home on my bedside table, until their fort-nightly return date.
With age phrases changed. I shifted from one unit to another. As interests matured, I put down the last of Roald Dahl’s book, which I had read multiple times and picked up books on crime and thrillers. At the time Point Horror was a popular choice during my teenage years. This was well before twilight and the Harry Potter era. Almost giving away my age, yes I am a 90s child. I used to be proud of finishing a novel in a matter of days. Telling my friends or anyone who listened, what a fast reader I was. We’d compare time-lapses of who could finish a book first. Hooked on Point Horror, I found it hard to put my novel down. I’d stay up as late as I could sitting the hallway under the passage light. Using the last minutes of light wisely, before someone screamed switch the light off.
Reaching my early twenties, my final transition with genres evolved. At this point, I hadn’t read a book in years and needed to find a way back in. After multiple failed attempts, I joined the hype of purchasing the very first novel by Dan Brown the Di Vinci Code. With no intention of reading it at first. The book was moved from surface to surface, never opened. Until one afternoon, when I finally decided to take the plunge. After reading the first chapter I was hooked. I ended up turning 600+ pages, not wanting to put the book down. This rekindled my interest in non-fiction and had me waiting for my “be the first to know” emails for Dan Brown to write more novels and searching for similar authors.
Today I’m picking up my current novel by Stephen King. My admiration for books has grown over the years. They are my much needed escape from reality.