I love reading and I always have. I used to be a very very devoted reader as a kid. I think I possibly read most if not all of the classical books written for kids – Charles Dickens, Eleanor H. Porter (all the Pollyanna series – so girly!), Roald Dahl, Little Women by Alcott, and many many more I can’t even remember!
It was not something imposed on me by family or someone else, I did it spontaneously and I loved it. It opened up my mind so much, it developed my imagination and it helped me to learn a wide range of vocabulary which turned out being very useful at school and in life in general. One of the best parts of reading was for me having the opportunity of discussing my opinions with my mum and grandmother. Without forcing me to, they both taught me how important it is to discuss your views on a reading with others because it is the best way to discover new points of view, to find out things you might have missed out on and to add even more depth to your understanding of the book.
As I grew older, when I turned a teenager, I still enjoyed reading a lot. I started reading also in English, as before I only read in Italian. It was hard at first, but then over time I improved my English and I learnt to enjoy my reading as much as in Italian. However, at school (it Italy) I was asked to read specific books which I did not enjoy. I later realised that it wasn’t so much that I did not enjoy the books I was asked to read, but rather that the amount of time I was forced to spend on them in order to write reviews, study for tests on them, answer long questionnaires made me really hate them. I sometimes think I should go back to these books, like the classic I Promessi Sposi by Alessandro Manzoni which all Italian teenagers read at school, so I can reread them at my own pace and appreciate them more spontaneously rather than because I am told to! It was during my school years that I started keeping a diary of the books I had read because I was worried I would forget about them over time…I still have it but I haven’t updated it for a long time. However, looking back to this diary, I saw that as teenager I read about 50 books per year!
Then came univesity…studying at university took away so much time and energies that I ended up putting aside my hobby of reading. This made me very sad often because I felt I was ‘betraying’ my love for books – do you understand what I mean? When you have little time to read, you end up reading bits and pieces of books and you never have time to really get into them to the point where you can really feel part of the story. Of course, this is a general statement because I still read many books although most of them for academic purposes. One of my favourite places to relax, during my university years in London were bookshops. Since being young, I have always loved the peace and quietness of bookshops. In a bookshop, I am able to pick any book I want and it doesn’t matter if I choose it because I’m attracted to it by its cover or its title or its position on the shelf.
Since my university years, I have had this problem of never having time or energies or quietness enough to read a book. Or else I not very often found books which I really felt passionate about. I have every now and then read some excellent books such as The Mascot by Mark Kurzem, The Kite Runner / A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
The worst thing about being stuck on books is that I end up with a pile of books on my bedside table which are started yet unfinished. When I have not finished a book, I feel like I do not want to start a new one until the other one is over. But of course this is a vicious circle, because the result is that I stop reading. I am now finishing a book which I have not enjoyed very much (L’ultima riga delle favole by Massimo Gramellini). I must say this is a bit of a struggle but I like the idea of the book so I do want to get to the end of it. I have really read most of it and part of the reason why I’m so slow now is that the story is basically over and I am not sure what else the author will be saying for the next 50 pages or so!
Does it ever happen to you that you have a book which you are struggling to finish but that is stopping you from starting a new one?