Neither of my parents are big readers. While growing up, Mum dabbled with the odd mindless romance whereas Dad was more a non-fiction fan. If you were having a problem with essay writing or having trouble understanding quantum physics, or you’d decided to take up watercolour painting – Dad had it covered. As far as he was concerned, all problems could be solved and all lessons could be taught with books and I can practically track my life’s troubles, interests and education just by lining up the books Dad’s gifted me over the years. parents instilled a desire to preserve all things and they nurtured my instinct to respect the written word. I couldn’t deface my lecturers’ handouts at university let alone write in books. I cannot bookmark pages by folding a corner, I hate creasing the spine, I can’t cut out articles or pictures from magazines. I used to watch game shows and secretly covet the pièce de résistance of non-fiction – the complete set of The Encyclopaedia Britannica.  Who wants a jet ski holiday in Vanuatu? In this technical age with resources at our fingertips it is strange to look back at how times have shifted.

I loved everything about books. I happily soaked up the smell of paper and found sanctuary in libraries (barring the days when the scary librarian worked). I wrote poetry and stories, my closest friends were bookworms and I enjoyed nothing more (with the exception of art and crafts) than our class teacher reading to us.

That’s me.  I revere books but I tend not to read them.

At this point, I usually confuse people. You can find a fuller back-story within this post here, but it would be similar to becoming a lifetime member of the Sky Diving Appreciation Society while afraid of heights and planes.  In some ways, I marvel at this contradiction and feel a little chuffed that I could see books with a clarity beyond the confines of my fear.

With help, my reading finally kicked off in the same year I turned fourteen. I couldn’t be called an Olympic reader but that year I attempted to make up for lost time and read a couple of books a week. I’m not talking epic Lord of the Rings-esque tomes, (although I read The Hobbit during this time) like most teenagers I gravitated towards the latest trend. My book consumption then rapidly diminished and by the time I hit university I’d ceased reading for leisure and solely read non-fiction for my studies.

To this day I’m a slow reader and the prospect of pulling back that first page of a book niggles at a deep and old anxiety I will never tame.  When I do read, I’m fussy. I’ve had two attempts at His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman but I cannot engage with it.  Why not? I like the world he’s created, the characters are intriguing and mysterious yet I don’t care enough to know what happens next. Unfortunately with me, if I’m willing to let a book sit, I won’t finish it.

Geez, I’m rambling. You’ll be relieved to know that this all has a point. My internet, blogging and writing schedule has gone a bit skew-whiff lately and while I’m getting my act together I’m hoping to allocate myself some reading time and work myself up to reading a book a month.

My brain needs bookercise.


10 thoughts on “Bookmarked

  1. I love His Dark Materials, but looking back now I find it quite preachy. If you like the world, I’d really recommend Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. This is my go-to rec for most people because it’s just. so. good. The first book is a little bit young and simplistic, but they quickly grow up with the characters, and he’s just an incredible writer.

    • I think I’m flying solo with my apathy for His Dark Materials. I really *want* to like it, not that I hate it – it’s just meh. It frustrates me not knowing why. I’ll give Mortal Engines a go. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Actually, I totally agree with Sarah on Mortal Engines – fabulous. But I also love and adore His Dark Materials, except for the middle book which is, frankly, a bit weird as well as being preachy. Have you read Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Trilogy? I love that, too.

    • So many people have recommended His dark Materials to me, I haven’t heard one bad thing about it. Expectation can be a killer – I have a post pending on that topic too! So many posts so little time. 😀

      • Also, I’ll add the Abhorsen Trilogy to my list. I’ve gotta start taking this reading thing seriously and tackle the fear head on 😀 Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Now I just have to let out a horrible truth. I’m your complete opposite. Not in that I dislike books – I love books and I read non-stop – but I don’t revere them. It horrifies most of friends and family. I’m that person who can shamelessly throw books away when I consider them boring and I do write in textbooks (one of my professors practically fainted when she once got a glimpse of my “Latin for beginners”, with not only exercises made right inside the book but also some silly drawings of hearts and flowers :)). I systematically cut out pictures and other bits from my favourite magazines, and I don’t mind enjoying the book and the bath at the same time (and if I occasionally drop it in the water, then so be it). And, as I tend to read at all times, including meals, I sometimes drop food and spill tea on my books as well. The only act of vandalism I haven’t done so far is folding corners, and that’s probably only because I have such a wide choice of bookmarks at home that there’s simply no need to use anything else.

    Are you scared enough of me yet? 🙂

    I hope you won’t put me on your black list though. I promise not to leave my dark mark on your book when I buy it 🙂

    Oh, and I forgot what I actually wanted to say – join me and Sinead on goodreads! I swear I read at least twice as much as I did before I joined the site. It’s really motivating.

    • Just give me a minute to compose myself.

      “YOU DO WHAT!?”

      *Hyperventilates* Just as well I really like you Ania 🙂 *rapidly hides all my books* 😉

      I may join Goodreads down the track – at the moment that thought makes me feel like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. One book at a time, methinks! For hardcore readers like yourself, I must be a real oddity. Previously I’ve found that once I get into the swing of reading, the anxiety almost disappears. I’m looking forward to getting back to that place. xx

      • Oh pleeeeeease pleeeease do! It’s not the best site in the world, especially as it’s owned by Amazon now, but I’m ready to overlook that fact *looks around guiltily to see if no one heard* because it really is motivating and great for talking to like-minded people (ie, readers :))

        I totally understand how you feel. I have anxiety about so many things, I know just how irrational and annoying it can be. At least you don’t have to explain it to people and face questions like “Why don’t you just do it, what’s so difficult about that? Come on, pull yourself together, it’s ridiculous”. I hate these comments 😦

  4. Folding down the corners – why why would someone DO that? So I empathize. Do you think maybe the extent to which you revere books, their physical selves, makes you a little intimidated by them? Just a thought.

    • Undoubtedly that’s one aspect. My anxiety level does bear a degree of correlation with the size of the tome I’m looking at, but the core of my fear arcs back to my poor reading ability and a fear of failure. What if I can’t read it? What if I don’t understand? What if I don’t meet others’ expectations? *runs away*

      Fortunately, as an adult I can look at it more rationally *runs back* 🙂
      Thanks for your comment.

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