Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Girl Who Loved to Read

I have a confession to make. A sad, awful, disheartening confession. The kind that crushes the book-loving soul of any reader.

But first, a little bit of background.

I grew in a book-deprived world. It was a developing country, and we all know there are bigger issues than books in such places. Like food and clean water. But I lucked out for the most part, because my family lived in a decent part of town, and my parents provided well for us. So with the necessities out of the way, I yearned for other types of nourishment.

My mother would buy me a novel once a month - sometimes two on my birthday. But it wasn't enough to feed my wild imagination or to quench my thirst for words. We didn't have libraries back then. And though my friends would get their hands on a new book once in a while, reading wasn't as big a deal for them as it was for me. So I didn't have anyone to trade with. I had to be satisfied with one or two books a month, when all I really wanted was to read one a day.

In a lot of ways it was frustrating. Of course it was frustrating. But in retrospect, I think that's part of what made the reading experience all the more delightful. Having to wait for ages until I could get my hands on a book I really wanted. That euphoria when I located it on a shelf at the bookstore and handed it to my mom so she'd buy it for me. And then reading it over and over to keep the memory alive.

It could be the nostalgia talking. Or maybe I've changed a lot over the years. But lately I've been losing it. That hunger and thirst. I find myself starting new and exciting books, only to have my attention wander to other things.

I had a policy once of never leaving any book unread. Now most of the ones I start aren't finished.

So what changed? Am I reading the wrong books lately? Going through a temporary phase? Too distracted by my own writing to remember what it's like to be a reader? Or am I, dare I say it, outgrowing being a book lover?

That last one scares me. The writer I am today is a result of my love for books. It's the fire that lit my dreams as a young girl, and the inspiration that led me to decide one fateful day, "I should try my hand at this writing thing."

I don't want to outgrow books, because I don't think I can - not fully. I have this emptiness in me now, in that part of me that was fulfilled by reading. I miss being an avid reader. Very much so.

So I have a new resolution. I'm going to search for a book that sparks that old excitement in me. Then I'll find a quiet spot, block out this world, and try to lose myself in a new one. Maybe then I'll rediscover the girl who loved to read. Because she deserves all the books she yearned for all those years ago.