I remember the day my dad took me to the library for the first time. I was in awe. That is the only way to describe how it felt. Awe. It’s not a big library, the one in my home town, but at the time, it seemed huge, mostly because of the high volume of books, and the shelves that at the time, seemed extremely tall!
I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but I do remember that I made straight for the elementary section of books, which means that I was probably nine or ten years old. My dad introduced me to the culture of reading, and even before that first visit to the library, he had been bringing me books at home, and this personal visit to the library was a true treat! Not long afterwards, my parents would allow me to go to the library on my own, because it wasn’t a long distance from our then-home, and it was the nineties; kids could walk a distance without their parents going into a cold sweat…i’m just saying.
I remember, selecting, during one of those visits, seven books that I wanted to carry home with me. Once I had selected them, I carried them over to the counter, where the lady behind the counter looked at me and chuckled. I was puzzled, until she explained that I could only carry a maximum of 3 books home with me, and then I could go back for more. And sure enough, I was back there the next day.
Since then, I would to the library every few days to exchange books. The rate was one shilling per book, per day, and my parents would give me this money as I skipped off to the library. As the years went by, I started to go with my younger brothers. And with time, my reading-level grew from elementary, then I started reading Pacesetters (does anybody remember those? They were my favourite books for a long time!), and then I started to read thrillers by Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Sidney Sheldon and John Grisham.
I had a brief phase during which I read novels by Barbara Taylor Bradford and Danielle Steel until, with time, I noticed that all their story lines were the same and I quit. I also noticed that their story-lines were very sad and aimed at inducing tears, and I like to avoid any books and movies that induce in me so much emotion, that I cry.
I don’t have anything against crying, I’m all for it; it’s just that, I don’t cry half-way. I’m not the kind of girl who can wipe her tears at the corners of her eyes, while her mascara remains intact. No, I go all out. There are sounds and sniffles and such. Like, while I was watching ‘For Colored Girls’ which paradoxically, I can’t bring myself to get rid of from my collection, even though there is no way I am ever watching it again. I’d rather watch Castle or The Avengers over and over again, than watch, and cry, though that movie again. Just like I would rather re-read a novel by David Baldacci than read one by either Bradford or Steel.
One of the things that I have been taking for granted because I have assumed that everybody has it, is the ability to read, write and speak eloquently. Recently though, I have come to realize that it is not as straightforward as it seems. It is a gift that I was exposed to by my parents when they took me to the schools that they did, when they corrected my language as I spoke, and when my dad took me to the library, that first time. Thanks dad. I am a darn good writer and communicator, because of that first time that you held my hand and walked me into the library for the first time.