I’ve always been a reader. My father, a dedicated reader in his adult years after struggling through school with learning difficulties, hoped that his children would develop a love of books. Being the compliant eldest child, I took it on board because I thought I should. Then it stuck. And my life looks different because of my love of reading. Forever changed.
As a child, when packing to go anywhere I would include books, as many as I could manage and my notebooks to fill with my own doodled musings. Anne of Green Gables sat alongside Sweet Valley High, What Katie Did wedged between Goosebumps and Choose Your Own Adventure books. A diverse interest was something I was known for in local bookstores and second-hand shops. I was the kid you could count on to be reading. Then I turned into the adult who could be counted on to be reading.
Books meant I could travel to places before I physically stepped foot on the squeaky airport tiles of the actual place. San Francisco smelt just like I thought it would. The gritty red dirt of South Africa felt the same as I’d imagined. Christmas windows filled with glamour and glitz held immeasurable wonders in New York City, just as I dreamed they would. I was a world traveller long before I ever was, through reading.
The person, I wanted to be was shaped by the stories woven by authors. They taught me to think beyond what I knew of the world from my small-town place in it. Mine was a charmed childhood filled with more than enough and long easy days in the sunshine. So I learnt of injustice and struggle in the pages of books. I knew that standing by and letting bad things happen was something I couldn’t live with myself if I did. Though time and time again I failed myself by not standing up, by following the crowd. I knew what I wanted for myself was more. So I tried harder. Sometimes I even succeeded in being that person.
I consider this lifetime love affair that is me and books sometimes, this week especially as I delve back into books, and think about the life I’ve lived. Books and reading have shaped my life. My writing and persistence with words, which pour from my mind to the pages of my blogs. My morals and principles were formed on the ideas. Writers of great words have moulded it. I’m grateful for a love of reading and for the access that I’ve always had to great books. Heck, even the access to the ordinary ones. That’s the beauty of books, in some way, they’ll change you for better or worse every single time.
Now excuse me, I’ve got Tara Moss’ The Fictional Woman to read.