Why I Read

It’s lying there. Just waiting to be explored.

From the timeless classics to the wonderful world of our dear friend Harry Potter, the power books wield is not something I ever dare underestimate. It is often said that the pen is mightier than the sword and I can attest the truth of these fine words. Books are a quiet comfort in my time of need, a chuckle inducing device as I wallow through life’s darkest moments. They form a magnifying glass that amplifies my understanding as I struggle to decode my own mass of feelings. (And BOY do I have a lot of those).

We often hear tales of moments that changed the game. Maybe it was Neil Armstrong’s small steps or even Beyoncé’s Lemonade. I can identify a moment in my history that set the tone for the rest of my life. In one of my earliest memories, I recall my older sister peeling off her schoolbag after a long, gruelling day of primary school. As she settled herself on my mother’s lap to get a taste of the latest thriller from the “Magic Key” series, I remember flying up from my makeshift castle (formed with all the finesse any three-year old could muster). I remember the pull. The magical rays emanating from that thin floppy paperback. My tiny chubby, grubby fingers plucked the book from my startled sister’s grasp and I plopped down on the plush carpet, attempting to make sense of the strange, black squiggles.

In spite of the fact that I was limited in my comprehension and communication abilities, I knew that book was meant to be by my side. With it I was stronger than any weightlifter, faster than Bolt himself. From then on, the characters of Roald Dahl whispered in my ears every night and I made it my life’s mission to become “Matilda”. Soon Jacqueline Wilson would show me that life is not always full of sunshine and rainbows. That day the seed was sown for my infatuation with books. Unbeknownst to little babbling me, this seed was on the verge of blossoming into a life-long love. And this love affair between books and me waxes stronger with each passing day. The literary tango we engage in sends me twirling across the dance floor of freedom and self-expression.

The idea of getting lost in a book is paired with the fact that books are often the arenas in which we find ourselves. Books have given me countless opportunities to express myself in a way that is perfumed with my own signature inky fragrance. People are most themselves in the company of the thing they truly love and with me there is no exception. I am empowered by books. I am free to be me.

And where else do you feel most free than in your own imagination? I read to nourish that imagination. Every time I am dragged out of a library or bookshop, I prepare for the same cruel awakening. I wait for the tendrils of that hypnotic bookish aroma to disperse before I am doused with an ice-cold bucket of reality. Luckily for me, my imagination is not something that can be contained inside four walls and it seasons my everyday life with a dash of the extraordinary.  I often wonder how I would have turned out had I not encountered my beloved books. Had I not felt their impact, there is no doubt in my mind that the imagination I treasure so much would be a shadow of what it is today. While I read, while I write; I am not restricted to just one persona. I can embark on a treacherous journey in unchartered waters alongside my favourite characters, or take a more introspective route and examine my own reactions to life events that may never mirror my own.

I read to write. The intoxicating combination of luxuriating in the works of others and weaving my own is something I could never quantify. Discovering a way to harness the images that flickered in my mind and stitch them into something beautiful, freed me from shackles and chains I had no idea existed. However, as with most things in life, there was an initial setback. Small as it may seem, the setback was my atrocious penmanship. As a youngster, my handwriting was indecipherable (many are still of this opinion). My relationship with books is what forced me to improve my spider’s scrawl. I worked tirelessly to ensure that the ideas that swarmed my mind would somehow find their way to paper (before my exposure to the wonders of Microsoft Word of course). Initially, it may have only earned me the “Most Improved” ribbon in class but hey, it’s the little things.

I wish everyone had access to these gems and that everyone with access had the desire to feast on all that books have to offer. There are so many wonderful components to latch onto. Is it an ending that left you emotionally spent, an epilogue you know will never come or a plot so thick it would give the biggest band of thieves a run for their money? Just like each person is unique, every reader moulds their own version of a story.

I read because each time I lovingly break the spine of yet another masterpiece, I am reminded of who I am and what I can be.

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OK, there it is! My first blog post. I’m not always this wordy but I thought this post could introduce my love of books. Obviously, this post doesn’t even scratch the surface! I would love to hear what it is that got you reading. Please feel free to leave a comment!

Expect plenty of books reviews and thoughts on books and writing. Coming soon!

Jane.