Walking out of my primary school gates on a Wednesday afternoon was always a joy for me. Not because school was over, but because as I stepped out onto the pavement, and was guided by a neon-clad traffic commander across a black and white striped crossing, I was walking towards my Grandpa. He would stand there beaming at me as he waited.
Once I’d bounded up to him, he’d always tell me the same two things: “Did you know that I was the first one to see you when you were born?”, he’d ask. As always, I’d say yes. Then he’d point to the book that was usually in my hand and say “I remember one day when you’d just started school, you came home crying and said to me: ‘Kenny-Boy, I’m never going to be able to read”, but you can”, and then we would walk together to his car so that I could spend the afternoon with him and my Gran.
Once I’d got over the obviously tenuous relationship that I had with Janet, John, and their dog spot, I became quite a prolific childhood-reader. I practically lived in the Magic Faraway Tree, solving mysteries with Nancy Drew and the Famous Five, while the girls of The Babysitter’s Club tried to teach me how to be a business mogul. I spent hours in the school library (where I met my best friend), and developed strong peripheral vision while simultaneously reading and walking to class. I carried this forward to High School, where Dumbledore died in a History class, partially obstructed from a less magical teacher’s view by a wooden desk that was poorly designed for inconspicuous reading.
While I was still a reader, sadly I began to read less and less for the sheer joy of escapism as I got to Varsity. This was probably because it’s hard to see the words on a page when your blood alcohol levels are at .10. It’s not something I’m proud of, but for a while I cheated on books with vodka and lemonade. Don’t worry though, we got back together. Books don’t give you headaches unless you’re writing them, editing them, or bashing yourself over the head with them. Vodka gives you a headache any which way.
C.S Lewis wrote that “no book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” I am on a mission to re-Kindle (see what I did there) my passion for reading to delight. I’m revisiting old favourites, and becoming acquainted with new ones – I’ll share my opinion on them if you share yours. Let’s start a book club! While many would deem it a failure, I’m hoping it turns out like the one I organised with my cousin when we were ‘tweens, which nobody came to except our respective best friends.
‘Book Town‘ illustration by Yael Albert