The library was a wonder to me back in kindergarten. It was located on the second floor of our building, next to the first grade classrooms. But to get there I had to go up the ominous, large staircase. And I was also scared that I would miss the person who was going to fetch me and leave me alone. Back then, I swore that when I get to first grade, I would enter the library triumphantly.
First grade came and I made sure to look for the library. I was ecstatic when I found out that my classroom was right next to library. At lunchtime that day, I was the first inside the room. The librarian was kind enough to show me how to use the library card, filling the blanks, and the kinds of books they have. Being a six-year-old kid, I was led to the easy books section. I can still remember the first ever book I borrowed, Tom Thumb.
I spent the whole night reading and re-reading the short adventure of Tom Thumb. I marveled by the thought of reading. I only had two story books at home and having a new book, reliving another tale, was an eye opener. Tom was taking me over his father’s garden. I was with him through the curious stares of strangers. He said goodbye to me when the last page was turned.
Ever since that day, I found a new hobby. Over the years, I have read many stories and books. When I read books, it feels like I am inside the pages. The smell of pages and ink of brand new books, the rough texture of aged binds and the gentle crimpling sound when the chapters unfold encapsulate me in a bubble where anything is possible. Words seep into my brain and move into my heart. Sometimes when I am reading alone, I even act out some lines and gestures. I empathize with characters, I feel the way they feel, and at some point I become them. It isn’t just an escape from the clutches of boredom but a life of its own.
But there came a time when I became too involved with other things. It was the advent of advancing technology, where a lot of teenagers do not appreciate reading as a hobby. Most are busy surfing in the internet, playing computer games, dallying in social network sites and whatnot. I’ve met people who find it boring just by looking at the toll of words in a page. For them, a tiresome activity is no hobby at all. I admit I was also entranced by the allure of technology. It was shiny, shimmery, splendid break in our mundane life. But the fast pace recreation was a trap. It kept us there all for the wrong reasons and all for the wrong intentions. Reading became just a sideline. It was something to do when the internet is unavailable, which is not that often. I forgot the joys I had with simply sitting back and reading.
It was a phase in my life when I was still discovering other outlets available but in the end nothing still beats a good book. My passion for reading reignited when I met new people who also read with much fervor. I was reawakened from the cruel hiatus. But the sad thing is that books of my interest are not as accessible as before. Back in grade school and high school, our library had a wide array of books that are annually updated. The setting in UP is highly different. Academic readings were highly prioritized over fiction. Saving my own allowance was the only option to indulge my fix, but being a mere student, it was a challenge. The good thing though, was that my sisters were also very encouraging with my hobby. They occasionally treat me to “book shopping”. I also thank some second hand bookstores for the affordable and unique titles they offer. Yet, these measures were not enough. The latest releases were difficult to find in thrift stores and are way too expensive in conventional bookstores. I realized that it was getting tougher to keep up with my reading hobby. And then I found the perfect alternative.
My past temptation gave me an opportunity to sustain my fires of passion. Technology was the answer. Advancements in the computer generation made books become readily available in PDF and epub formats, which allowed readers to download the files and read them using their laptops, smart phones and the like for free, if you know where to look. There were also networking sites that made book reviews and sharing possible. The virtual dimension was no longer a distraction; on the contrary it was the fuel that kept my enthusiasm for reading possible.
It was a breakthrough for me, having the best of both worlds and enjoying two of man’s greatest achievements: books and technology. It made my mundane life an exciting experience. There are days that I would devote to reading alone, while some days I would search for new interesting stories for me to relive. A raw prose. A polished fiction. A sensational epic. A dramatic novel. A national best seller. A secret hit.
It might sound unnerving and odd to some people that such ardor would be given to such unassuming and quiet leisure but to the heart of a bookworm, who has found, lost and redeemed her passions, reading is an art. It is the meeting of minds. The book itself is just a black and white canvas but your imagination colors the painting and makes it uniquely yours. There are instances when you find yourself too engrossed to the works of fiction that the reality seems surreal. Unlike other forms of expression, written accounts are strange binds that make each letter and word more meaningful.
Nowadays, I can’t always address the call to read for there are also responsibilities waiting to be answered. There are reports to be made. There are papers to be written. There are exams to prepare for. Sometimes weeks pass by before I get the opportunity to enjoy the moment of unadulterated reading. Reality always finds its way back and at the end of the day we all know what our priorities are.
But even if I don’t always have the time to read, I am not saddened. The happiness that I get from reading stays with me. The way I see the world is shaped by the narratives of hundreds of personalities made of thin sheets from pulps of wood. They taught me countless of lessons, from family ties to heartbreaks. It gave me a glimpse of life that is waiting for me to happen, a tale waiting for me to create. It was no longer just a simple hobby; it is a way of life. It wasn’t a boring activity; it is burst of sparks. It was never just papers and ink or words on a page; it is a world of its own.