One of the reasons why I cherish my childhood is the simple fact that I was raised to love books. Every classroom at my elementary school had a library. Once a week, we had library class and we used to visit the library to check out a book. Every day at school, we had 45 minutes of reading time. Just a block away from my home there was Borders which I used to visit one or two times a week. My school organized book sales throughout the year. And I visited Kips Bay Library a lot. Growing up in New York City, I was destined to love books.
My enthusiasm to read was incredible. I loved the fact that I could immerse myself into another world and be somebody else. Books have that effect on you. They shape your mind to understand the world around you. It’s ironic because books are fictional. Neil Gaiman in my version of Fahrenheit 451 perfectly describes the feeling;
Any story is about a host of things. It is about the author; it is about the world the author sees and deals with and lives in; it is about the words chosen and the way those words are deported; it is about the story itself and what happens in the story; it is about the people in the story; it is polemic; it is opinion.
Ideas – written ideas – are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our thoughts from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes.
Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.
And this is why books are so important. This why we need books. We study Shakespeare, the Romantics, Modernists and so on, in this generation. Art reflects the time. Writers write about the world they live in. Books are time capsules from the past. By understanding our shared past, we can learn and envision a better future. We can correct the mistakes of the past. Reading is educating yourself. Without books, we will most certainly end up loosing our morality. Books guide us. They tell us profound truths that a TV show or movie can’t tell you. TV shows and movies don’t make you think. They are only visuals that are constantly feeding you information that you barely have time to digest such information in your brain.
I am glad I was brought up to love books. I find it disgusting that certain parents these days do not emphasize reading within their child’s upbringing. They are ripping them away from an education you cannot obtain in the classroom. Books make you question life. They give you inner cravings to want to know more.
The book which I can almost claim is my favorite book (it’s so hard to choose just one!) is White Teeth by Zadie Smith. When I read that book, I knew that I wanted to write a book that would leave the same effect on my readers. It was mind-blowing. This book affected me so much that I am most probably going to write my thesis on it next year. I want to tear it apart and reconstruct it. In other words, give White Teeth a read.
The only problem is that the older you get, the less time you have to read and actually enjoy pleasure-reading with no rush. It’s a shame that life gets in the way of reading. I guess that’s what summer is for 😉 Now that my exams are over (finally!) I have a list of books awaiting me. Hopefully, I will manage to read these books:
- Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
- Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
- Saturday by Ian McIwan
- A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Sites which I suggest are suitable to buy more books to your never-ending reading list are definitely Amazon and Book Depository (really good prices!). Yet, if you’re looking for hidden treasures of second-hand books, SPCA Gozo has a book fair every Sunday morning. Enjoy reading under the shade this summer!