Growing up, I didn’t like reading books. I don’t think I touched a book till I was about 11. This might not seem like a huge deal to a lot of people out there, but my family is full of readers. To them, this was unacceptable. My parents are voracious readers, and to my mother especially, my reading habits (or lack thereof) were very displeasing. Especially since she always had the ready comparator in my brother (who was finishing Harry Potter books by the time he was 8 – yeah I know, talk about healthy sibling rivalry). I don’t remember how I started reading. I do, however, remember that the first book I ever read was Heidi. I must admit, I didn’t fall in love with reading immediately. But I do remember being proud of that one book I had finished.
Somehow, along the line (to the great relief of my parents, and my mother especially), I developed a taste for reading. Soon enough, I was a regular at the local library. On a side note, I think libraries are just about the best place on earth. So yeah, I spent a lot of time at the library reading through whatever I could find. I read mostly fantasies in the beginning. Which kid doesn’t dream of adventure and quests and dragons and and magic. I met some of my favourite people during these years – Rick Riordan, J.K. Rowling, Jonathan Stroud, Terry Pratchett. I was in love. The found family trope, the idea of kids my age getting together and setting off on adventures – whats not to love.
In some time, with age, I graduated to romantic fiction. When I tell you I’ve been through all the motions, and all the phases in the life of an evolving bookworm and rightly earned my place, I mean it. As with many other women of my generation, and girls my age at the time, Meg Cabot was a huge deal. I started with All American Girl. There was no looking back after that. I read through every single Cabot book I could find. Every. Single. One. Eventually, I moved past teenage boys with curly hair and blue eyes to gentlemen in tail coats. I don’t think any one forgets their first encounter with Jane Austen (especially if you’re a bit of a romantic at heart). What a time to be alive, and what lovely gentlemen friends to make, even if only in one’s imagination.
Later, the mystery-thriller-detective bug caught me. And my trusty companion through all of it was none other than Mr. Hercule Poirot. I loved the little Belgian man with a huge ego, and an even bigger moustache. We exercised our little grey cells together for many, many happy months.
Anyway, the point is not to take you through the evolution of my reading habits and taste in books. Not entirely, that is. Sometime ago, I read a book by the author Murakami. In the book (I think it was either Norwegian Wood or 19Q4) there is a gentleman. A gentleman who owns a reading room. It isn’t a library per se. It is just the private collection of books of a very wealthy gentleman who, after his death, leaves the reading room to the children of the town. He sets up the reading room with a trust, and someone to take care of the books. Every day, the room is opened up for the children (maybe everyone was allowed and not just the children) of the town to come in, read books for however long they want, and leave in the evening. You’re not allowed to take books home. What you are allowed to do however, is to spend as long as you want just sitting there and reading to your heart’s content. I don’t remember much else from the book but I do remember the wealthy man and his reading room.
A couple of months after reading that book an idea struck me. I should make a reading room of my own! Aren’t we always reading about all these rich and famous people leaving behind private collections? I may not be wealthy, but I do have some years (hopefully) ahead of me. So, I’ve started buying books and building my collection. I’ve bought about 60 books since October of 2020. Believe me when I tell you, I don’t think I have ever been prouder of something in my life. Or if I have, I don’t remember it. I love to see my bookshelves getting filled with books. I haven’t thought through the entire storage space issue yet, but I set aside enough money to buy about 5 – 10 books a month. I buy them whenever and wherever I can find them. I have this habit, whenever I get a new book (regardless of whether its new or second-hand) of writing down my name, the place where I bought it and the date on which it came into my possession (on the first page of the book). Like every other self-respecting bookworm I consider all of my books to be my friends, and this bit of information just makes it that much more intimate. Kind of like immortalising the date on which we became friends.
One of the reasons for starting this blog was to write about any good books read, what I thought about them, and why I think it might be worth someone else’s time to get to know that book. Maybe I will do that too in some time. I hope I can talk to you about my friends sometime!