I’ve never been much of a reader. Books were a luxury when we were kids. We were a middle-class family with 6 people in the house on two incomes. We were sent to one of the best schools in the city although my parents could barely afford it. We always got what we asked for. We celebrated all the south indian hindu festivals at home with the entire family on my dad’s side since we lived with our paternal grandparents. My grandmother was a great cook and she loved making tasty snacks and condiments for her family, which meant that besides our tuition, all of the household income went into funding high household expenses.
So naturally, my parents couldn’t afford to buy us as many books. They only ever invested in “reference books” with a high ROI. You know, like a dictionary, Wren & Martin, etc. Most of the “story books” we had were hand me downs from cousins. I remember I used to love reading Tinkle as a kid, but it was 8 bucks(!!!) for an edition and my dad wouldn’t buy it for me because it was a terrible waste of money for something that would get over in 15mins. Instead, my parents got me a library membership where I could borrow a Tinkle for 50p a day. Given that I didn’t read a lot of books, I was a slow reader. So I was afraid to borrow books that would take me a long time to read because then I’d have to spend more money on them.
So, I only ever read Enid Blyton when I could borrow the book from our school library. We used to have one library period a week when you could read books but I think by 6th standard that became the time when “hardworking kids” started finishing off their homework so they’d get more time to study at home. Obviously this was a great strategy worth copying, so goodbye reading. Hello, brownie points from parents.
Summer holidays could’ve been a great time to read, but you see, my mum had spent all her holidays “preparing for the next academic year” as a kid. But I had friends to play with, so I didn’t need to occupy myself with anything else. Although my parents would’ve loved for us to be readers, I didn’t spend a lot of my time reading. On the contrary, I ended up running a library when I was 9 years old and made over a 100 bucks one summer. So you see, I was always meant to run a business. 😀
So you see, it was only when I didn’t have friends in life that I actually started reading. In 2007, I had drifted away from most friendships since I was deeply involved in a relationship. When this relationship ended, I was friendless. I tried to re-build some friendships, but it was really hard. So, I found my escape in books. I read the Harry Potter series from start to finish that summer (all borrowed, of course!) I couldn’t believe I’d read so much at a stretch. I absolutely loved it. These books helped me get through one of the worst times of my life. I knew that I could always escape into another world through books.
Then there was a massive period of lull for about 10 years. I was too pre-occupied with all the new relationships I was building in mu life. When we moved to London in 2017, I saw a lot of people on the tube reading all the time. That’s when I started reading again. May be it was peer pressure again, but beneficial to reading this time. It definitely made my commute a lot more interesting.
Given that I’d never discovered the joy of reading as a kid, I wanted Berry to experience it. You know, being a typical parent and all. I always bought her books that she asked for. They cost nothing in comparison to my income. Its an expense that’s never been a burden, unlike to my parents’, so why not. In fact, I buy books for Berry very regularly whether she asks for it or not because I want her to have a chance to experience the joy of reading. Now, if she doesn’t become a reader, it’s fine. It’s her loss really, but at least, I’ll know I tried.
Once I started buying books for Berry, I started becoming less afraid to buy books for myself. My husband has been great that way in showering me with books all the time whether I read them or not. Whenever I want to read something, he’ll be the first to buy it. In fact, he bought me a stack of books last week from Blossoms and I am binge reading them now.
Thanks to COVID, and all the isolation, I am reading again after a brief period of quiet since we moved back from London last year. Once again, I cannot believe I am on my 7th book of the month, but I am loving it so very much and making up for all the lost time in my life. To keep things interesting, I am trying to read books from different countries now. Having a friend or two from a lot of these countries helps in not building stereotypes in my head about these countries based on just one voice.
I might write a post about some of the books I’ve read recently at some point, but for now, I’ll be spending most of my time reading 😀