My journey with books

I can still vividly remember my very first book that wasn’t a Grimm fairy tale. It was Enid Blyton’s ‘Stories for you’. My parents bought it for me after I achieved a good mark at age 5 in my Year 1 exams {Yes, I know you shouldn’t reward outcomes but rather focus on effort —but my parents were unaware of that back in the day!} I think I read the book in one sitting. And was hungry for more.

Luckily for me, my parents were only too willing to feed that hunger. Sure, sometimes it was in the form of bribery rewards. But at other times, they were happy to indulge me. It was interesting because neither of them read as much. Dad was too busy reading big fat medical books and mum, well never seemed to develop a love of reading that her father had. But I think they were both secretly glad at my love for books. Except maybe at lunch and dinner time when it took me ages to eat because I was too busy reading.

Through primary school, I devoured Enid Blyton getting lost in the lands of brownies, fairies and pixies and places where toys would come alive at night or where there were different adventures on top of a tree. I was enthralled by adventures the children in the books experienced while I tried to solve it with them. I escaped into their lives of sneaking out at night and solving mysteries, going on picnics and indulging in things I could only dream of — meringues, scones, eclairs, ginger beer. Later on as a teenager, I dreamt of going to a boarding school like St. Clare’s or Malory Towers. I wanted to be friends with the likes of Pat and Isabel and Darrell. I even begged my mum to send me to one only to be met with a firm no and that real boarding schools were not as fantastic.

As the years went on, my tastes for mysteries increased and I read legal thrillers such as John Grisham and Sidney Sheldon. They didn’t always match some of Agatha Christie’s who-dun-its but still kept me hooked. When I started university, I chose English Literature as one of my subjects {even though I intended to major in Psych}. I figured because I loved reading, this would be the way to go. Ironically, the two years of studying English lit actually ruined my love to read for pleasure! I think it was the pressure to analyse things and also conform with the views of the lecturers that made me want to throw the books out of the window. That and the fact that I found classics like Mill on the Floss, Grapes of Wrath and Oliver Twist a tad boring.

My journey with books

Fortunately, a year later, while I was in my final year with only psych subjects, I got saved. I found my passion for reading thanks to Harry Potter. I was able to read the first three books quickly and waited impatiently for the fourth to be released. That impatience combined with excitement continued over the next few years right until my final year of Masters here in Australia. I still remember anxiously waiting for the final instalment and pre-ordering it at Big W. Texting a friend while reading to find out how far they had reached. And pretty much finishing it within a day and a bit in between lectures, placement and work. All the while getting teasers thrown at us by our lecturer who finished reading it before us!

Over the years, I have been hooked on Jodi Picoult and the moral issues she manages to delve into while also reading more literary novels and ones that make you question and think about the world or life in general. I guess in some ways, I am currently doing what English lit wanted me to do. The difference is I am doing it on my own accord. Some books I read are probably a bit depressing and relate a lot to psychological issues but somehow, I love them. My friends who are psychologists don’t understand why I would want to read books on such heavy issues particularly given that we work day in and day out listening to such stuff.

Nowadays, fiction that is close to truth grips me. Books that speak to me on a personal level grip me. Writing that is beautiful and tugs at my core has me hooked. Anything that has a message or makes me think long after I have left that world is tantalising. A story that makes me ask questions about myself or the world I live in is something I adore. And finally, characters that stay with me and become my lifelong companions — they are worth waiting for.

It’s no wonder I have read so many books and still have about 70 more on my bookshelf I have to finish before I turn 35.

Yes I continue to re-read Harry Potter and Enid Blyton.

But I also love the anticipation of a new story. A new adventure. And in the process, making a new friend.

Until next time,