A Love of Books
Part of my recent self-development has been identifying passions and being able to talk about them.
One of these has always been books. Or reading them specifically. I had a past article on the Importance of Physical Books.
[Photo by Laura Kapfer on Unsplash]
Books when Young
It helps that I come from a family of book readers. With the exception of dad I was surrounded by a mum, grandma, sisters and aunts and an occasional uncle who loved to read.
I remember many a car journey happily focused on a book for hours. Early years included lots of Asterix and Obelix, comics (of Beano and Dandy variety), Hardy Boys, Three Investigators, ladybird history books and many others I don't remember.
Fantasy in the Library
For the first three years of secondary school (ages 11-14) my lunch breaks were happily spent in the school library. And the main subject was fantasy (and some sci-fi) books, of authors great and not so great. Anne MacCaffrey, Fighting Fantasy, David Eddings, Ursula Leguin, David Gemmell, Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, Tolkein, Piers Anthony, Mercedes Lackey, Isaac Asimov, Raymond E Feist, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Terry Brooks, Janny Wurts. Among others!
It wasn't that the library was a refuge. It was more that teenage me couldn't see the point of mixing with people when instead I could be reading untold books and making efficient use of time.
I also read alot at home and had my own large collection including many role-playing games books. Plus a mum who worked in the library system so books could easily be sought out or times extended!
What is it About Books
Books were (and still are) a portal into another world, whether set in another world, the far future, an alternative England, a weird place called the USA or historic Europe. A place with different rules and other mindsets. For me fascinating places so different from rural England of my youth.
I would happily be focused on reading until the early hours, and many books were finished in one sitting. I think for many years having a library / shelves of books was a strong part of my identity.
It's also been a way of connecting with people. Talking about fantasy books or Dickens or books at a book club.
Maybe some of it is also about control. Reading for fun is usually a very private matter, where we can choose what we read and at what pace. Whether we want to continue with a series or one book of a particular author is enough.
Books have grown and stuck with me. I still read a lot of fantasy and the list of authors has grown and evolved (Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson, NK Jemisin, Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie) and I read alot more in other genres.
It's also become a tool for learning languages. Either reading books I know, short stories and childrens books of other cultures and a few dual books (same story, one page in English and the other in Spanish / German / Polish / Portuguese)
I've tried Kindles but never got on with them well. I can understand the logic of why they are good but I find I can never sleep well (usually I read just before bed), even with the Kindle paperwhite. I also miss the physical reminder of books. You also can't lend a digital title so easily.
So I only read physical books although I use digital titles for gaming. Which is more expensive but I'm happy with second hand and random books. Ironically all the titles I publish are in digital formats!
My identity with books has also shifted, as over several years I shed thousands of fantasy, gaming and other books, down to under a hundred of them. But leaving things behind was part of a larger journey!
My non-fiction books however, are mostly audiobooks. I've rarely managed to sit and read a decent sized non-fiction book. I can happily listen to Audiobooks and Podcasts for hours though, normally while doing something else.
So that's an initial attempt at explaining a passion for books.
What is your relationship with books?