“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
I was a late bloomer with reading.
There were far too many other interesting things to do than sit quietly with a book. It also felt impossible to try and get words to fit inside my head. I’d have to read it over and over again in order for it to sink in. Sometimes I still do. But back then, I was not patient enough for it.
The thing is though, I always wanted to like reading. As a young girl, I looked up to people who read “for fun” and desperately wanted to be called a bookworm. I remember a time when I was riding in the car with my mother who had to return her library book. She was, and still is, a voracious reader. I picked the book up and was fascinated by how big it was, “Woah, mum! Did you actually read all 526 pages?!?!” She smiled and said, “honey, the page number doesn’t matter when you love the book.” I was so envious of her discipline and wished I could do that too.
So, I figured I’d fake til I made it. I found a Nancy Drew book somewhere in the house and declared to the family that I was reading a very interesting book that happened to be 113 pages long and yes, if anyone was wondering, I would read every single last page. “Great,” everyone responded unfazed. The next morning I ‘finished’ the book and announced it to everyone over breakfast. “So, what was it about?” my mother asked, looking at me expectantly. I was stunned, I definitely didn’t read it and hadn’t expected anyone would actually ask me what it was about. I didn’t even read the synopsis at the back so I was forced to make something up on the spot. As I explained what happened my parents smiled at each other, amused by my made up story.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I really got into reading. At the time, I had the world’s most boring job as the switchboard operator for a large department store. All I had to do was transfer a caller to the respective department and at the end of the night, gather the cash of each register till and place it in a safe. It felt like solitary confinement to sit alone in a cold basement literally waiting for a telephone to ring. Also, Facebook and Instagram didn’t exist back then so I genuinely had nothing to do but daydream and stare blankly at the wall. The boredom was unbearable and my mum suggested that I bring a book to help it go by faster. I agreed and suddenly I was lost in a book so gripping I’d forgotten my surroundings and was hanging up on callers to read one more page.
When people tell me they don’t like reading I really believe it’s because they haven’t found their soulmate book yet. If you aren’t naturally a reader, you need to have a book that matches to your brain chemistry and you will see that once you find one that fits you, you aren’t even reading, you are imaginarily flying in another person’s head. It is the most amazing escape and the best form of therapy.
Here are some books that have made a significant impact on me. There are so many good books I’ve read over the years, it was really hard to narrow down the list. I only selected the ‘gateway drug’ books; the ones that introduced me to reading and changed the way I saw the world.
They all feel like a part of me, in some weird way.