Reading: A Love Story

beautiful-book-cup-flowers-favim-com-586092She was about 3 years old when her mother introduced her to books for the first time. She couldn’t read yet, but her mother would read to her. Story time was one of the most pleasant times of the day, something she looked forward to even more than playtime with the neighborhood kids.  She couldn’t wait till mum comes home from work, because she would sometimes bring back audio tapes and when you play it someone else reads stories to you! It came with the book and if you listen to the tape it tells you when to turn the pages. There were lovely pictures in the book and if you listen closely and follow the letters, you’ll also learn to read. How wonderful that was for her! She could picture the characters, hear them speak – the many voices of the characters and before she knew it, she didn’t need to listen to all the taped voices anymore.  She could read, imagine what her invisible friends looked like and soon enough she could go to the library and pick out as many books as she wanted!

I was sitting on my reading chair with a book in my hand and my feet tucked in underneath me, my mind wandered back to when I fell in love with reading and that’s the image that flashed in front of my eyes. That little girl was me and what a delightful memory that was! I was raised amongst books, I’ve known them all my life and I’ve loved reading since I can remember. Books have been a constant in my life and I have my mother to thank for that. She taught me how to read, not because it’s something she had been doing daily (she was a teacher), but because she is an avid reader herself. She and my day nanny would tell me stories, read to me and even bought me the most beautiful picture books, but that particular memory is something that got stuck in my head. Back when I was small, there weren’t many audio books for adults and if there were, it wasn’t popular. These tapes were almost like radio soaps for kids, but you’d get the book too. You can imagine what a treat that was for me, because now I had a few voices reading one story to me! I still remember being very excited in primary school when my dad had to take me to the library twice a week (only after my homework were done) to take back the books I’ve read and pick out some more. I remember walking through the rows and rows of book isles, breathing in that old dusty smell of books and sitting on the floor reading the back of book covers so I can decide which ones I want to take home.  Almost every time my dad got tired of waiting and had to come and rush me…

tumblr_mjh89jS7zW1s664seo1_500I have a certain fascination with books – I love the smell of books, especially old books, bookstores and libraries. There are few things that get me as excited as when I step into a bookstore and whether my intention is to buy or just to browse, I WILL only surface a few hours later.  I feel that if you don’t read to a child or teach them a love for reading, you are doing them a huge injustice (and maybe I am wrong).  I like to talk about books, about what I’m currently reading and I want my friends to read my favourite books. I’m lucky that most of my closest friends are readers too. To me anytime is a good time to read, but one of my favourite reading times are in the winter when I can curl up in bed,  burn scented candles, listen to the rain and escape into the magical world of fiction. Nothing is quite as enjoyable to me as when I’m sitting with my nose in a really good book and sipping on something that I believe isn’t good for me – coffee.

With reading, I grow. It’s a fun way to learn and broaden your knowledge. I want you to read as well and feel the emotions and think the thoughts that run through my mind when I read a really good book. I wasn’t there during World War II or the Spanish Civil War, but I have a pretty good idea what happened and how tragically people’s lives were affected by it. My history teacher didn’t teach me that or tell me that, but my books did.  I am able to empathize with these people and doing so I’m travelling back into time.  Reading can make you do that…bring out feelings of various emotions and even nostalgia.

George R.R Martin said “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads lives only one”. I have lived a thousand lives, “travelled” to countries I’ve never visited, in any time period I choose to, because when a book is good, I am there too. I’ve played naughty pranks with Matilda, rediscovered the joys of reading with Chloe in The Book of Secrets, walked and played in The Secret Garden with Mary (the spoiled brat!),  planned along and actioned revenge on people in The Count of Monte Cristo, cried a few tears for the characters in Winter in Madrid and Sarah’s Key and I applied a few spritzes of Chanel N°19, so I could better imagine the character that is the beautiful and elegant Katherine Massot in Sparkles

“Page after page I let the spell of the story and it’s world take me over, until the breath of dawn touched my window and my tired eyes slid over the last page”  – Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I have done this many times! Have you?

I wrote this for Literary Love 2014, an event hosted by some of my favourite people in the world:

literary-love-20141

Images sourced here and here

  • What a sweet post, and I think that you and I are soul sisters. My mom says that when I was little I never wanted toys, only books.

    • Thanks Ricki. I can’t imagine growing up without my books 🙂

  • I absolutely agree with what George R.R.Martin says in his quote, and I love this post! Thanks for writing it!

    • That’s one of my favorite quotes, Naomi. Thanks!

  • Oh my gosh, what an amazing post, Mel!!! I just looooove this!!!

  • Chantal

    Ahhh, thanks for this passionate read, I too am reminded of being 13 years old curled up in bed with a good book and at the same time listening to the rain. I too will only surface for breakfast and supper…and I so clearly hear my mom telling me to switch off the lights and sleep at 3am…when I’ve just giggled at some funny script….some good reading memories 🙂

    • That’s a good memory! I wonder how old I was when I started reading until 3am… The last time I sat up giggling with a book was when I read Matilda 🙂

  • “There is no frigate like a book. . . .” comes to mind while reading this post. Your reading history sounds a lot like mine with mother-aunt-grandma reading mentors. My dad was an avid reader too, with an intellectual curiosity that has been passed on to our grand-children.

    You mention liking the smell of books. At the beginning of each school year, we would open our new books, and inhale the off-the-press aroma. It was the same with a new crayon box too. Thanks for reviving some lovely memories, Melinda.

    • Marian, you are so right. I did that with my crayons too (and books of course and it wasn’t necessarily novels, even textbooks!) My dad reads too, but he isn’t an avid reader.

  • Great post 😀

  • Love it. And agree. My sister bought me PJs last Christmas that say “Ask me about my book.” Almost nothing I like better than a book and book talk.

    • Oh I want some of those PJs too! I guess that’s why we have book blogs 😀

  • Had to read that whole post to get to Zafon… you have outdone yourself 😉
    I share your love for books and have been raised the same way by my mum. My brother does not enjoy reading though. I think it is a patience thing too.

    • I’m glad to learn that we have that in common (raised the same way). All my siblings doesn’t like reading, it’s just me and my sister. I think it’s just the women 🙂

  • I love this post! Such a beautiful ode to the joy of reading 🙂

  • Beautiful post… What lovely writing and what a lovely love story about books! I so agree that it’s important to start reading with children at a very early age. I of course like your comment on the scent of books too 🙂

    • Thanks, Adria! That’s a nice compliment. And of course you like THAT comment 😉

  • I grew up listening to audio books too! I carried around a toy cassette player everywhere.

    • They were awesome back in the 80’s 🙂 It was very different from what you get now…

  • litandlife

    You’re absolutely right; if you don’t teach your children a love of reading, you really are doing them a disservice. Although you can’t make them love reading – I have three children and one of them really dislikes reading. But everything in life is easier if children become good readers.

    • I agree with you, you cannot force them, but you can do your bit by reading to them and buying them books when they are small. You plant the seed, it’s up to them to let that love for reading grow. At least they can look back and have loving memories of you reading to them 🙂

  • Isi

    I loved the post, Mel!!
    You know, when I was little I didn’t go to the library, but my father encouraged me to chose a book every time we went to a book shop, and he himself has a great library at home, so finding a book wasn’t a problem.
    I discovered the library as an adult, actually, when I had to buy my own books and I realized I would never get money enough for it 😛
    I have also learned a lot by reading, and I’m proud of it, because, you know, part of being a reading is also wanting to learn more.

    • Thanks, Isi! You know my situtation is now the opposite of yours. When I was small I visited the library often! Now I hardly go, but I will have to soon, because there is just so many book I’d like to read and I think I should go check them out at the library. This reading hobby is becoming expensive, just like you said.

      We do learn a lot, because in history class they taught us facts, in books we read the emotions and struggles the characters go through in that time. It made me have compassion and empathy for them. Cry with them. I now better understand the impact the wars had on people’s life and even a country, which I didn’t understand on this level before!

  • This is such an awesome post. Like you, books have been a constant in my life and I have my parents to thank for that. To this day they are avid readers and we talk books on the regular. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you, Allison. That must be so nice to sit and have book talk with your parents!

  • A very lovely post! I thought up a prank or two after reading Matilda.

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  • I love this post, amazingly beautiful. You could not have said it any better and I believe you speak for every true avid reader. My experience with books are similar to yours…my fondest memories are spending 6 days a week in the library…it was like a labyrinth of literature for me. Don’t let me get on the smell of books. Up till today I still sit and smell books (old and not so old). Recently I had people staring at me on a bus ride home because I couldn’t fight the urge to smell the book I was reading. Thanks Melinda, you just took me straight back to my childhood back into my life now.

    • Thank you! And I’m glad I could take you back to your childhood. Reading is such a simple pleasure, that many missed out on!