Philosophical cow dung on the life of little Ms. Imperfectly Fine.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How come I don’t read books anymore?

Aidil; getting a head start

I asked this particular question not so long ago and I now already found the answer. It’s because I was too busy with other stuff, like photography, singing and youtubing, completing the semester hopefully with straight As, and playing very complex computer games (Have you ever tried opening a bakery?). But now that I have more time to spare since school’s out for the break, I can safely say I’m reading again. Yay!!

Let me share a little something. When I was a little girl, I read a lot of story books. I can confidently say I read more English books than the average Malaysian primary school kid do. I read all the time, even when it was passed bedtime, even when the only light available was the one in the porch of which we would leave on the entire night (I don’t know why we do this, it’s not like we want to aid anybody in properly picking out good shoes to steal). I was practically obsessed. You know what they say would happen if you read in the dark too often? Thank God my eyes are still good and I don’t have to rely on glasses except on the occasions that I would want to look like the geek that I really am.

Geek in the brink of self discovery

And during this stage in my life, I was quite the “self-spoiled” brat.

having being spoiled through personal efforts rather than by natural favoritism.

I remember how I would beg my dad to buy me at least three books by Enid Blyton every month. But it would only take me less than a week to finish them all. My parents, seeing such encouraging behavior on my part, obviously supported my book craze. I mean, I bet any mother’s heart would melt at the sight of her child reading a book that has pretty pictures of teddy bears and tiny red shoes (separately of course, have you ever seen a bear dance wearing a pair of shoes?). And I reckon any father would be proud to see that his little girl actually enjoys the book that he had personally picked (even if she had given him a long list beforehand).

My booksies

What I love about reading those books was the sheer excitement that I gained with each turn of the page, especially as I get closer and closer to finishing a book. Of course, sometimes I never really understood the stories. I asked my mother a lot about words I don’t understand until she had to remind me that she’s not a walking dictionary. But the determination to finish each book made sure that the more I read the more I began to understand. I would guess the meaning of the words, sometimes they were correct, other times I would miss the whole point and invent new meanings (I think they were pretty good too). It was not until this semester in school that I learned that when I was a young reader, I did almost exactly what good readers do and this was explained by Catherine Wallace (1988), the author of my “Reading” textbook.

“The successful readers tended to select from a range of strategies. For example, they skipped inessential words, guessed from context, read in broad phrases, and continued reading the text where they were unsuccessful in decoding a word or phrase.”

Yes, I did a lot of that skipping part.

What started out as a mere childish desire to collect as many books as I possibly can turn to a genuine love for reading. As I grew older, I began to develop a taste for reading books that are unconventional, when girls my age would be reading what do you call em? SUVs or SVUs, I turn to young adult horror/science fiction novels by Christopher Pike. Of all the great writers that I have always admired, one name started it all. Maybe it is due to his marvelous creations, the stories that he conjured from the abyss unknown that triggered my love for deep thinking.

His books have inspired me in such a way that no textbooks in any school could ever accomplish. I suppose that is the power of literary fiction. It can change lives merely by the turn of the page. I've learned to appreciate life and the world as it is and what it could be. And I owe it a lot to him. In fact I owe every writer, big and small, who have given me an insight to their ideas and ideals, without which I would not be everything that I am now. And I think the most incredible thing that they have helped nurture along the way without physical presence is the gift of creative imagination.

Allow me to be a little sentimental over here. Books have opened up a window in my head where I could gaze not just faraway but beyond that, look out into another realm where anything is possible as long as you can think of it in the first place. I realized that I wanted to share what I see with others, I wanted them to know of my innermost thoughts and dreams in a way that could somehow help them at the very least by giving some company during those moments when absolute solitude becomes unpleasant.

And that’s why I write, to give back something so that the cycle continues, so that this particular story never ends.