I rekindled my romance with books last year.
I would mention the instigating piece of lit crack that did me in, but I wouldn’t want to shame the more recognised literary giants.
(Oh, heck, fine – it was all thanks to a certain Ms James of England who introduced me as well to SHOUTY CAPITALS, OH YEAH!)
I was on a roll after turning various shades of ashen skin (bad joke, I know) due to precious sleep hours spent instead in la-la-fiction land. But it was bliss and continues to be. I’ve been reminded of how many worlds I’ve visited from reading tons of books since childhood. Seems I’ve taken an unnecessary hiatus from my reading that now I’m furiously catching up on it. I realise how much my reading preferences have evolved, and seem to still be evolving ever since I first devoured pages off Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, and then Choose-Your-Own-Adventure’s, as a grade schooler.
I recall graduating with the Sweet Valley Kids to high school, and then later to SVU. I recall learning the ropes of baby-sitting, though I never had to do this, from the The Babysitters’ Club. I eagerly lived through each unrealistic, sickly sweet young love affair in the Sweet Dreams romance series, which I realise now I may have read too early on! I could very well blame those darn romances for why I’m still holding out for “the one” (damn him, what’s taking him so long!) If only I had first read the dark worlds conjured by Christopher Pike, precursor to the modern-day glittery vamps, then maybe my idealism for love would have tempered a bit. Or not.
I recall trying out as well the “standard-issues” of bookstore best-sellers – John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice. I also went through the somewhat predictable Nicholas Sparks, Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho phases, and (without sounding pretentious) enjoying a few Latin American reads in between, ie Isabel Allende (I loved House of the Spirits), Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Admittedly, I was also a Potter-head and a Twi-hard. Very much still a Twi-hard, I’m afraid, in my heart of hearts.
These past months though have found me patronising mostly indie authors I read about on Amazon. These guys, or mostly ladies, seriously rock. At least I think so! Now and then I manage to include a few mainstreams on my list – and goodness, what a find that John Green was! He’s the author of these amazingly witty and wisely composed young adult pieces, my favourite of which is The Fault in Our Stars. I shamelessly campaigned this to my friends and they all blame me for the buckets of tears they shed on it.
For those who haven’t read it, and who have a morbid appreciation for normally depressing themes (read: death) but enjoy finding profound and life-affecting meaning in such, then this is the book for you. It is a coming-of-age novel (think along the lines of The Perks of being a Wallflower) which narrates how two terminally-ill teens find love and friendship in an unlikely place – a support group for cancer patients and survivors. Reading it makes you appreciate your youth (if you’re actually a young adult reading it), or likely makes the real adults (ahem) recognise the value of still being alive, despite all the shit one’s gone through. It’s a feel-good story wrapped in the harsh realities of life, where not everyone is in good health, where not everyone can live to eighty and at least have the chance to fulfill one’s dreams.
I liked how it also told the story of a has-been best-selling author, whose self-involved persona is nothing like what his readers would expect him to be. Shows how, despite one’s successes in life, if you allow yourself to get deep into a nasty habit (like drinking), and purposefully refuse to get out of it, then yeah, you’d just be lost to everything. Previous accomplishments out the window, just like that.
I think I’d love to hang out with John Green even for a day and pick his brains. I think it’s real talent writing for a young adult audience when one’s an old adult.. But hey, what do I know.
Since I seem to have an uncanny ability to find scraps of wisdom in the most mundane sources (though by no means do I think this book is mundane), here’s a few lines from it which struck me (#geekalert):
“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”
“So I wasn’t lying, exactly. I was just choosing among truths.”
“Pain demands to be felt.”
“It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence.”
“I fear your faith has been misplaced – but then, faith usually is.”
“..never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.”
“Funerals, I had decided, are for the living.”
My affair with reading has brought me back to my roots and I’m quite comfy right where I am now. Think I might keep this up for a long, long time to come.
Yeah, I think I will.