On Reading (Part 1)

Books: Musings on Reading
[ PART 1 ] [ PART 2 ]

When I was a child, I did nothing but read. From the moment I learned how, I always had a book in front of me. My parents joked that I would never be able to find my way home because I was always reading in the car, not paying attention to our location. Despite answering their questions correctly, a few of my teachers were less than fond of the way I would speed through my coursework so I could get back to my current novel.

The reason for this bibliomania? Books are passports to foreign countries, time machines to the distant past or far future, doorways to new worlds and new knowledge. In short, they are magic. Yes, I realise that these are the standard clichés trotted out when discussing books, but they’re all true.

As I’ve grown older, my reading habits have changed. Some of this was due to practicality: from my time as an undergraduate onwards, I spent a lot of time reading to write essays or prepare for tests, and reading for fun started to seem like more work. What I had always considered a positive part of fiction, the way it would grab you and not let you put it down, began to feel more like a negative: I no longer had the luxury of time to stay up until 4:00 in the morning to see how the book would end.

After a dash through the works of Terry Pratchett and the Discworld, my reading of fiction became practically non-existent. Instead, I frequented the site longform.org, a rich collection of long-form journalism from around the world. These non-fiction articles worked perfectly for my schedule: I could read them during my commute without feeling any pressing need to continue reading them until the reverse journey home. And they were a good way to stay up to date on a variety of topics; it was win-win.

Yet, completely by accident, I have been dipping my toes back into the waters of fiction. A few months ago, Amazon held their Prime Day, a chance for Prime members to get discounts on a variety of items (most of which they probably didn’t need, but no matter). I didn’t have a burning desire for any of the things I saw for sale, but noticed I could download a book for free. Of the choices I was given, I selected Stephen King’s It, his paean to friendship and the interstellar evil that lurks within a small town.

Continue to [ PART 2 ]

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