In my younger days, I was never found without a book in hand. I suppose it may have started from a lack of anything else to do. Getting swallowed by huge drains to sail paper boats never caught my fancy, nor did I wish to catch grasshoppers out in wide, open fields. So books it was, and it wasn’t long before I was hooked, travelling through real, fantastical worlds that made my life seem even duller in comparison.
I pursued this love far longer than practicality would have allowed. When asked what on earth I was going to do with a literature degree, I would merely shrug and say, “I will figure it out.” In the meantime, my major allowed me further progress into these other worlds, though with the act of growing up, the worlds became a little more melancholic and bleak. Sometimes I wonder if this doomed sense of reality came from the books or from my own inner angst. However, it was, quite simply, the best time of my life.
While my peers lamented over essays and having to pore over critical readings, I couldn’t imagine a better life. However, my pragmatic side began to rear its ugly head, bolstered by parental concerns of what I was going to do with my life. As much as I tried to distract myself, this awareness of a termination point began to prick at me, so I began to shop around. I wrote for the school paper, dipping my toes slightly into the possibility of journalism. But as much as I loved to write, I also knew that print journalism wasn’t a thriving industry anymore, and I didn’t want to pour my heart into something that would just turn around and spit me out. When my second year came around, I signed up for a teaching internship. A career built on the love of books sounded good to me at that point, so I hopped on the teaching bandwagon.
I assumed that in my capacity as a teacher, I would be reading a lot more. In reality, I was reading one or two texts very intensely, for however long I would teach those texts. The literature texts cycle usually lasts for about 5 years, so within those years, I lived and breathed those texts. They were the only things I read.
Even when the holidays came around, I was just so eager for a break from books. It was all too hectic and frenzied that I didn’t want to read anymore. Instead, I found myself travelling, going as far as my pocket would allow (which was never too far). On my travels, I was inevitably drawn to bookstores and bookshelves, trailing my hand across the smooth spines like a book pervert. Pining after them eventually led to me buying them, and I would leave the shops with a skip in my step and a book or two in my bag.
When I got back, the rest of the holidays were spent catching up with friends, sleeping and bingeing TV shows. Then it’s back to the grind again, where each night I drag my tired body back home, falling asleep to a wall of untouched books. I couldn’t break the habit of book buying. The more I couldn’t read, the greater I would indulge in this book gathering. I buy them with the utmost conviction that I would read them, and then I don’t. So there they sit, collecting dust and years on their worded bodies.
Because family and friends know my love for books, they too enable this habit of mine, leaving me flushed with book vouchers and towering blocks of book Jenga. When we engage in conversations about books, and I list a few that I would love to read, someone in the conversation circle would pop up the next day with one of the books I mentioned, urging me to read it. I receive these offerings with the best of intentions. Obligation gets me started, but I have no motivation to cross the finish line. These books also crawl onto my shelf, half read and never looked upon again.
I wish I had a happier ending for you, but that would make me a liar. Things are still very much status quo, with books taking up so much space in my room that even Marie Kondo would be triggered. But I am trying. When I have a bit of time at night, my hand goes to a book I am reading instead of my phone. I am not the fast reader I once was, nonetheless I will snail on by. I hope it becomes effortless again, because books are worth it, and I will keep trying until I am a reader once more.
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