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The joys of reading

The joys of reading


This is a “boring” topic, but it is very near and dear to my heart. I have loved reading since I was a child. I remember the first thing I learnt to read was my own name, it was right before Kindergarten. My aunt decided that even before I learnt to write properly, I should be able to identify my own first name, and so my aunt would write it on a piece of paper (and I would lose it and ask for a new one), and I’d sit in concentration trying to memorize the letters.

I’ve always been someone who wanted to learn more. When I was in Kindergarten and learnt that there were numbers higher than 20, I was dumbstruck by my sheer level of ignorance. To put it in current slang, I was “shook”, I made up my mind then and there to find out as much as possible about everything. By the time I learnt to read, I was reading everything my eyes touched… literally everything. We couldn’t afford reading books, so the only books I read for a while were my textbooks. Unfortunately, by the time school began in September I already knew my textbooks back and front, naturally class became boring, as I’d already taught myself most of the material.

My aunt always took keen interest in my reading, she knew my reading abilities were way above my age. Much to my displeasure, she bought me classical books, which I begrudgingly read. She wanted me to be “well-rounded” and classical books were the way to go. I was so ungrateful, all I did was complain about how boring the books were, but they were better than nothing. Eventually, I discovered the public library and swore I almost died and went to heaven. It was also the beginning of my book anxieties, aptly termed “so many books, so little time”.

My primary school received a library donation when I was in grade five, but no one was allowed to use it except me with special permission. It still vexes me to this day that they were gifted these books and refused to allow the children access, because they’d rather leave them unused than risk them being damaged. In secondary school, I damn near read out the entire school library. I read every single classical book I could find, and every encyclopaedia. My weird tastes for reading encyclopaedias back to front, resulted in a trove of random knowledge that always awed my friends.

Later on, when I properly learnt to use the internet, I discovered e-books and pirating. This is my one morally grey area; pirating books. I had no hope of buying them, and one of my aunts had just gifted me a Kindle Reader. In one Christmas vacation I read 30 books. As school became harder, I had to read less, at that time I read about 25 books per year.

I’m ashamed to say that during my three years at university I only read about three books. As an economics major, I always had a lot of reading and couldn’t justify leisure reading. During my final semester I was so stressed, I began a book and finished it within three days. I quickly realized that the benefits of reading were much greater than the time “wasted”. It will be a year since my final semester at university, and I’ve already read 79 books, yes, I am bragging.

If you’re wondering how I read so much, I use audiobooks and my Kindle. I literally never travel without my Kindle, and I always keep it charged. It’s light, compact and mostly discrete. I listen to audiobooks on my way to work and during my morning routines. Audiobooks are very expensive, but take a while to finish, so they don’t leave a hole in my pocket. I also used Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription, which lets me read from a selection of over three million books for US$10 a month. It’s scary how comfortable I am spending money on books. I figure I work to improve my happiness, and books do just that, so I spare no expense. This rationale is easy to maintain when you don’t have a mortgage or children.

Most of what I read is young adult fiction and fantasy. Are you surprised? This year I’m trying to diversify my books and include Sci-fi, Horror and Philosophy. I am not ashamed to say I love fantasy books, as far as I’m concerned, read whatever makes you happy. I had an adult co-worker in her 40s who almost exclusively read romance and young adult fantasy. There are literally millions of books to read, why waste time judging someone for their tastes? At one point I only read cheesy romances, even though I hated them (still do). They have no real plot or character development, and the ending is always predictably happy. However, I was doing CXC and under a lot of stress and anxiety, by reading cheesy predicable books, I was able to distract my mind while avoiding additional stress. I had problems sleeping and couldn’t fall asleep unless I read to “settle my mind”. To this day CXC is still the worst exam period of my life, I wouldn’t redo them for all the tea in China.