I devour books.
All sorts of books: historical fiction, fantasy, crime, drama, Australian fiction and the occasional biography or memoir. For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid reader. Riding home from school on the bus, the other kids would always have to remind me that it was my stop to get off. As I clambered off the bus, school bag in one hand and book in the other, I would hear the mutterings, “always got her head in a book!”
Reading is like breathing. I couldn’t imagine a world without books and nor would I want to. With a book, I can go anywhere in the world, during any time – past, present or future. I can discover imaginary worlds or learn more about the real one. I can get a taste of how it might feel to walk in another person’s shoes.
C.S Lewis said, “I am a product (… of) endless books,” and I believe that to be true. Every author we read, every character we meet, every place we explore, contributes to the person we are becoming. They makes us think, imagine, cry, rejoice and sometimes, get mad. They tell us that we are not alone. There are others who have experienced the same, felt the same, thought the same.
Over my lifetime, I have devoured many books, yet the reading list seems to grow ever longer. My list of favourite authors, headed by J.R.R. Tolkien, grows ever longer too. Every patch of blank wall is a potential spot for another bookshelf. I used to keep a little pile of books, waiting patiently to be read, on my bedside table. However the pile grew so high that I have now graduated to an entire bookshelf for books to be read … some time.
As a book devourer, I tend to read pretty fast. Once I’m hooked, I just want to plough ahead and discover what comes next. Studying English Literature though, has taught me about the joy of reading lento – slowly and deeply. I still tend to read a book allegro (fast) the first time, but I am learning to enjoy books slowly the second time, or third time around. Of course, rereading books does prolong my reading list even further, but it is like time spent with a friend.
I must admit that I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to reading. I like to feel a real book in my hands. I like the smell of a new book and the crispness of the pages. There is nothing better than curling up in bed, when the wind is howling, the rain is pelting, and the temperature is plummeting, with a favourite book in your hands. E-books have their uses, but give me a real book any day.