“Reading is boring.”
Excuse me, but I can’t hear you properly over the sound of my incredulity.
Yes, I do understand that not everyone shares the same interests, but please also allow me to disagree with you when you say that reading is boring. (My bookaholic heart dies a little every time I hear that statement.)
Growing up as an only child meant I had to be creative in finding ways to amuse myself. While there was no shortage of playmates (my cousins were my neighbors), the introvert in me apparently manifested early on and steered me towards the bookshelves. I spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book – Sweet Valley, The Babysitter’s Club, Secret Garden, Black Beauty, Archie Comics, and my all-time favorite, the Nancy Drew series. I remember being in awe of the pretty and intelligent sleuth, and harboring a small crush on Ned Nickerson, the seemingly perfect all-American boy. Nancy was my first fictional hero – she could do no wrong in my eyes. Of course, I learned to be more critical of the series and characters as I grew older (yes, I now consider Nancy a Mary Sue), but I still enjoy reading them up to this day.
After Nancy Drew, I can’t remember any book that had the same impact on me. Sure, the required readings in English class like The Little Prince, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Catcher In The Rye, Lord of the Flies have touched me and still linger in my mind years later, having read what I considered then as heavy materials at such an impressionable stage, but nothing that really made me crave for more. Outside of class, I lacked the desire to consciously search for books to read… until Harry Potter came into my life. When I finished reading the last word of the last chapter of The Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone, there was no turning back. I could not return to my ordinary life when millions of pages worth of adventures were out there waiting to be read.
The series rekindled my love for reading – and I mean reading in the pure, recreational sense of the word. It is also the main reason why I’m such an anglophile and flailing fangirl right now, but that’s another story altogether. College came and I met fellow book-lovers who introduced me to so many other wonderful reads. I immersed myself in lives and worlds completely different from my own through One Hundred Years of Solitude, Memoirs of a Geisha, Bel Canto, The Alchemist, Tales of the Otori Trilogy (Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass For His Pillow, Brilliance of the Moon), The Hobbit, The Hunger Games trilogy, Looking For Alaska, The Book Thief (one of my favorite books of all time), Agatha Christie books, Good Omens, Norwegian Wood, The Millenium series (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), I Am The Messenger, The Kingkiller Chronicles (The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear). There are about two piles of books in front of me still waiting to be read – books by George Orwell, Libba Bray, Haruki Murakami, Louisa May Alcott, Chuck Palahniuk, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Green, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These lists are by no means exhaustive. I haven’t even included the non-fiction books which, if I have the time and muse, will be a different post. Besides, I’m too lazy to stand up right now and have a proper look through my bookshelf. Anyway, my point is, I still have so much to cover, and I have no intention of stopping what others consider a tedious and lackluster activity while dealing with real life. Why?
Because through books, I’ve been to so many kingdoms, met the tiniest to the most gargantuan of creatures, invested myself in the lives of the poor, of kings and assassins, of fairies and witches and wizards, cried my eyes out, felt outraged, had my heart taken out of my chest, beaten to a pulp, only to be patched together by the sweetest and most healing of words. I’ve lived a hundred years, experienced anguish and ecstasy and everything in between, been allowed to glimpse my own experiences in another light while in the comfort of my own bed. I have learned much about myself in reading about others.
So yes, please allow me to disagree with that statement. Reading has afforded me extraordinary journeys of self-discovery in my otherwise ordinary life. Not every worthwhile experience happens outside, in the thick of things – sometimes it happens within, and that doesn’t make it any less meaningful or authentic. To quote one of the wisest fictional characters I know, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
*Quote taken from Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.