Welcome to the first edition of A Blighted One’s new feature A Reader Who. This is the first of a series of guest posts where readers share their story about who influenced them to read. For more information on this feature or to sign up to be a guest poster check out this page. Now please welcome Wendleberry from Marvel at Words and be sure to check out her blog!
There is no specific place my love of reading came from. It wasn’t something that was suddenly thrust upon and encouraged within me. Reading is just something that has constantly been a part of my life.
With siblings a significant number of years older than me, I spent a lot of my time as a youth alone. I filled that time with reading, and an imagination fed through books.
Both my parents read a lot. My mum has always had books filling her bed side drawers, as well as a huge pile of books in the spare bedroom. This has been the case since I was a child, and no matter how many books she reads, her pile of unread books never gets any smaller. My dad has a small study that is literally wall to wall bookcases. He has his nose in two or three books at a time and has always enjoyed reading in the living room, where there will be people about with whom he can share an interesting or funny quote from his book.
The types of books I was exposed to as a child varied wildly. My mum reads mostly popular fiction, with the genres ranging from romance to thriller and horror to crime. My dad rests more firmly in the area of non-fiction, enjoying books spanning many years about true-life wars, crimes and wide-ranging adventures and catastrophes. He enjoys fiction, but sticks more to the classics.
My own personal taste in books, it is obvious, has been influenced by my parents. While it is distinct in its own right, there are clear overlaps. My mum and I often lend each other books and make recommendations; she is the reason I grew up reading Point Horror before progressing to Stephen King. My dad and I, on the other hand, have more meaningful discussions about the works of authors such as William Golding, John Wyndham and Joseph Conrad.
It’s clear to me I get my enthusiasm for books from my mum. She devours them. She can’t pass a charity shop without ducking in to have a look at the books, and neither can I. She sits up reading in bed at night and in the morning, and often falls asleep with a book in her hands—all habits I have picked up.
From my dad I have learnt a respect of books. He appreciates their history and their meaning. He buys more obscure and rare books, seeking out specific titles and editions from online booksellers. He is proud of his book collection. He doesn’t go as far as putting his books in protective bags when they leave the house, like I do, but the sentiment is there.
I don’t remember learning to read, I just remember always reading. I was probably the only child in school who enjoyed reading aloud to the rest of the class. I enjoyed reading books for school. I remember reading The Hobbit, An Inspector Calls and Of Mice and Men, to name just a few. I still have essays and creative writing assignments I wrote about them.
There was one teacher, when I was 11 or 12, who recognised my passion for reading. I still remember, after having studied A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, she took me aside and said, if I was interested in reading more Charles Dickens, that she recommended The Pickwick Papers. That I, specifically, would be likely to enjoy that book; that it would challenge me a little more.
To this day I have not read The Pickwick Papers. I remember finding it in the school library, but for whatever reason at the time, I did not check it out and I did not read it. But now, almost 20 years later, I still remember. Whenever I am in a book shop, the first section I always go to is the classics, and while I’m browsing the shelves I will always keep an eye out for The Pickwick Papers. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll actually buy it.
What I feel like I grew up with, on the whole, was an ideology that reading is worthwhile. It is worth your time and your effort. Reading to me came has always come as naturally as breathing and eating. It is just something I have to do.