Reading is a lonely activity. When you read, you erect a social barrier around yourself, effectively shutting everyone else out. Reading is selfish because you can’t share it with anyone, and no one really benefits from the act whilst you’re reading. Ah. That explains why I do not have many friends.
You see, I love reading. My list of priorities is as follows – brother, family, reading, studies, boyfriends, friends, sleep. My mother bought me my first storybooks – a box set of five fairy tales for about RM15 from some peddler – when I was nine years old. That was the first and last time she’s ever bought me books but I have not stopped reading since.
Despite the strong (almost bordering on obsessive) love for reading, I don’t read books of every genre. My first love will always be science fiction and fantasy (you know, the ones with dragons and elves and magic). Though I can’t stand non-fiction, I read books on the Holocaust and crime stories. I delved in horror in the form of Stephen King and read The Exorcist, all out of curiosity. Couldn’t sleep for two weeks without getting nightmares. Stupid curiosity. I read Jodi Picoult and her family/legal dramas and I have a handful of books on general knowledge and facts (to impress older people when I talk to them).
But why reading? Why choose to sit at home, curled up under sheets (or eating something, or both) reading when one can go outside pick up a sport (eugh) or some form of a more “rewarding” hobby? Why strain your eyes reading point 10 fonts when you can strain your eyes watching television?
I guess there’s something about the bookstores, which draws you in every single time you walk by. Perhaps it’s the rows after rows of perfectly organized books and being able to run your hands over the glossy covers. Perhaps it’s the friendly bookkeeper who seems to know where every book is and pinpoints that one book you’ve been looking for the past half an hour.
Perhaps it’s the book themselves. How can I put into words the satisfaction one gets from hearing the sound of a freshly cracked spine (of a book), and the smell of aged (and new) manuscripts, the pleasure of peeling off the price tag and that plastic wrap.
The fluttering of pages, the choosing of the (right?) bookmark that will accompany this particular read. The first words, the painting of pictures in your mind as the author narrates in your head. The joy you share with the protagonist, the mourning of his/her losses.
The mental note to read one chapter only to realize that it’s 3 am in the morning and you have class in a few hours. The (almost) grief that comes when you are on your last chapter. The satisfaction of devouring yet another good story.
I don’t think my words do it justice.
You’ll just have to read to find out.