When I was a little girl I read anything and everything I could lay my hands on. The 4 book limit at the library was stifling for someone like me. I’d read them all within a couple of days and then the ensuing 10 – 12 day wait until the next library day was agony. I tried to pace myself but it never worked. I devoured books like a teenager devours potato chips.
When I’d finished my children’s books, I’d read my father’s. I can remember one summer holiday, when I was eleven years old, reading Gone With the Wind in three days. My favourite character was Rhett Butler and I couldn’t understand what he saw in silly Scarlett. She was just like some of the girls I knew at school: so into herself she couldn’t see straight.
I can remember one time being so desperate for something to read I started to work my way through the dictionary. It wasn’t great reading but I became a bit of a whiz kid at spelling and scrabble.
When I was about ten, I discovered the Narnia series. Suddenly the Secret Seven and the Famous Five were dull as dishwater. In the world of fantasy and science fiction anything was possible…anything.
By late primary school, I’d developed an interest in myths and legends and archaeology. I thought the two subjects were connected. I didn’t care what part of the world they came from, although I did have my favourites: Egypt, the Middle East and the United Kingdom. My parents would bring home books from the adult library for me, as the children’s books were too simple and unsatisfying.
I wonder what I’d be like if I were a young person today. Would I be obsessed with apps, or wii, or playstation or computer games? I’m not sure that any of those things would satisfy my craving for stories; except, perhaps, computer games. No, I think I’d probably still be reading, but they’d be downloaded into my kindle or e-book or ipad, or whatever the heck is all the go now.
Have I created an image of a poor nerdy kid who hid out in the library every recess and lunch time? It couldn’t be further from the truth. I had a lot of friends. I played netball and tennis. I rode my bike all over the place. I played softball with the kids in my street. I loved music. I learned to play the guitar and sang by myself and with others whenever I got the chance. And when I was in primary school a couple of days every week there’d be lunch-time dancing. I loved doing the twist to Chubby Checker and the Beatles. Oh yes, I was a bit of a groover.
Why do people assume that if you love to read you’ve given up any interest in the rest of life? I think that the more you read, the greater your interest in life. It was my love of reading that developed my interest in politics, religion and theology (two different things), history, sport, sociology, different languages and people.
God bless the story-tellers, poets, song-writers and artists of the world. You make it a much richer, dynamic, fascinating and colourful place for the rest of us.