Reading – Part One

Blog No 51

I wasn’t always a reader, which is an odd for a writer to say.  I have vivid memories of my mom reading all the time.  She pushed reading and both my parents read to my brothers and me when we were young so it’s not like I didn’t live in an environment that fostered reading.  It’s all on me.  When I was younger I was so enamoured with television and movies that I have little time for reading (or at least that’s what I told myself).  I did read a little, but outside of a few not so good books I don’t have any strong memories about reading at a young age.  It just didn’t spark my interest.  I’d like to say that it’s because I was always really mature and smart and reading children’s books didn’t challenge me, but that would be a lie.  In fact, thinking back on it now, I feel like I did like the idea of reading but I was probably scared of the work involved.  I was an extremely lazy kid.

I can remember the Scholastic days where we would get out of class and get to go to the reading centre and look at all the books available to order.  I loved those days.  I’d get to not be in class (which was always awesome) and I got to look at all the books I wouldn’t read.  I enjoyed walking around the room and looking at the covers and titles.  I would imagine reading the book and even come up with my own stories to fit the title and pictures.  There was one time that I actually did ask my parents to order a book from scholastic for me.  It changed my life.

I was not a kid who was into comics.  I have a lot of friends who were (and still are) avid comic collectors and readers.  Through my friendship with them and a really cool (but challenging) class in University I came to have an appreciation of comics later in life.  What I did read when I was young and collected until the creator stopped making it was Calvin and Hobbes.  I ordered Revenge of the Babysat and devoured the book.  Calvin and Hobbes has no shortage of fans.  In recent years there has been books made about the comic and its very private creator.  But as special as the story of a boy and his imaginary tiger is to everyone, it is especially special to me.  Calvin and Hobbes were my friends.  My parents were more than happy to keep buying the collections for me.  It was practically he only reading I did for many years.  I would come home from school and (rather than do my homework) spend hours reading and rereading those books.  I know Calvin and Hobbes aren’t a comic in the way comic books are, but I liked the segue so I’m sticking to it.

When I was in grade eight I read my first real novel.  Many of the people in my class had already made the change from kid’s books to full novels, but as I was not a reader, I had no interest.  I had purchased books that looked interesting (including a few Star Wars books) but I hadn’t finished most of them and the ones I did finish took me so long I’d have forgotten the beginning by the time I made it to the end.  I was not happy in school and I did everything I could to stay home as often as possible.  It didn’t always work but when it did I milked those days for all they were worth.  I never had a Nintendo as a kid.  If I’d had I would have probably spent every day home playing until my parents hid it from me.  (Thinking about it now, it was probably a good move by my parents not buying me one).  Sometimes I would spend my “sick” days watching TV or movies and sometimes I was actually sick enough that I spent most of the day sleeping.

One day I started reading Sphere by Michael Crichton.  It should be no surprise that I am a Science Fiction fan.  I loved the book.  I sat in my bed and read for hours. I managed to get through half of the book that day (which is quite and accomplishment for a non-reader).  The big surprise was that I managed to finish the book that evening.  I had read a book (a full real book) in one day.  I was amazed and excited.  I felt invincible (unless I was talking to my parents in which case I was ‘cough’ feeling a little better ‘cough’).

I wish I could say that I used that feeling to slingshot into another book and from that day forth I was a full-fledged reader but that didn’t happen.  I can’t tell you what I tried to read next.  I can tell you that I was really excited for the Sphere movie.  It was a huge disappointment.  In my opinion they missed the point completely, the actors were all wrong and they left out the best parts.  My parents had told me that the book is always better than the movie, but I really hadn’t understood until I experienced it myself.  I had a long way to go, but that realization was a key step in my journey to becoming a reader.

To be continued.

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