… or how i discovered books.
When I was a young boy, the worst possible activity anyone could force me to do, was to read a book.
Anyone who knows me now, at the age of 34 will laugh in disbelief at this claim. But it was true. Until the last year or so of my time at Bective Lower School, I hated to read. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that the only reason I hadn’t fell in love with reading sooner was because of the subject matter I was given.
At school, there was this huge catalogue of books for the pupils to read. They were graded by level of advancement and colour coded into different recommended reading experience levels. I found almost all of them incredibly dull. I was too young to know that I had any fictional genre preferences, I was too young to even recognise that there were different genres of fiction!
Then I remember stumbling across a science fiction story. To this day I cannot remember any of the particulars of the plot, the characters or even who wrote that story. But I remember being shocked that I enjoyed it so much. It was the first story I read that I would go from start to finish without putting down.
I remember that from this point on I started devouring the books the school provided. I went back over books I had “previously” read. I worked my way through books at higher reading levels than I was supposed to, of course I started to skip books that didn’t interest me and as a result quickly exhausted the supply available from the school.
Someone must have noticed my change in behaviour, because at some point I started being taken to the town library by my Great Aunt. It became an at least twice-weekly routine. Every Saturday, we would go into the library in town, she would let me wander around the shelves and carrousels of books. I would be allowed to pick a small number. My Aunt would then borrow them on her card for me, and I would take them home and greedily consume their contents.
It didn’t take my Aunt long to realise that her library card was rapidly becoming my library card, because I was regularly borrowing more than half of her maximum allocation. I was soon the proud holder of my very own library card. I used it extensively. (To this day I can still remember the 11 character alpha numeric library id of my last library card.)
I had even developed my own routine. I would first visit the local bookshops. I would look to see what new books had just come out. I would then go to the library and order/request those books. It was probably a good thing that I didn’t have any kind of steady income, else I may have spent all my money on books.
Over the years I would go from my child library card to a young adult library card to an adult library card. I visited that library in Northampton Town centre almost every weekend. I loved it in there.
Unfortunately, I got older. I hadn’t lost any of my love for reading, but real life has a way of distracting you from the things you want to do, by making you do things you have to do.
The year was 1999. I was a student and had a job. Unfortunately for me, my job required me to work Saturdays. My steady Saturday routine had been broken. Don’t get me wrong, I still visited the hell out of that Library.
Having a job meant having a somewhat steady income. Most of it was spent on typical student expenses… *clears throat* … like text books of course. But in 1999 I had embraced what was then something new. I had discovered and made use of the Amazon website.
Back in 1999, Amazon wasn’t the powerhouse that it has become today. Today I wouldn’t use Amazon, unless there was absolutely no other option. Back then it was all so new and shiny and convenient. Times change don’t they?
Over the years since then I have embraced more change. I was an early adopter of ebooks by buying and using a Sony ereader. I loved being able to buy a book in .epub format from any website and reading it on my ereader. (I have since switched to a Nook.)
I started to attend conventions and fan gatherings. I met friends I knew online and made new friends. I met some of my favourite authors, discovered new ones and expanded my list of “what to read next”.
At a fan gathering held in Blackpool, I met my fiancée Jenny. Together we made semi-regular visits to Dragon Con, a huge Fan convention held every year, Over the US “Labor Day Weekend” in Atlanta, GA.
None of this would have happened, had I not discovered how much enjoyment I could feel from reading. Reading has literally effected the direction my life has taken.