I bought Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson a few weeks ago. I finally got around to reading some of it recently, and I realized that I probably read at a lower level now than when I was 10. I remember reading this classic as a kid, and enjoying it immensely. Now, while it is still a good read, I don’t find myself getting through the book as easily as I would have imagined. I have to get back to reading at a higher level, if for no other reason than to satisfy my ego.
As a young boy, I wasn’t a big fan of video games or toys, but if you gave me a good book, I would get drawn in for hours. I used to love opening up a book and getting lost in its pages. I would come home from school, spend some time playing with friends, have some dinner, and invariably spend a few hours reading before bed. Yes, school work and studying took a back seat; in fact, my appetite for reading is probably what caused me to develop my propensity for procrastination and my willingness to prioritize my hobbies ahead of my work.
Armed with a membership to the local library, I devoured hundreds of books. My usual fare tended to be mystery novels and thrillers – an enthralling narrative tended to capture my imagination better than eloquent prose. I moved quickly from the Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie to Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy. Doesn’t sound like the highest quality of books or the most challenging to read, but this was between the ages of 6/7 – 10/11. Along the way, I read some of the classics like Great Expectations or the aforementioned Treasure Island.
I was also a sucker for series which created vivid universes and a diverse set of characters. One such series was the Animorphs by K.A. Applegate. Those familiar with the series will agree that the books were fairly poor in the quality of writing, but were strangely addictive because of the plot. Each book was formulaic, and built up to a fast-paced climax. I would blaze through each of them in a couple of hours, and I would eagerly await my next opportunity to get my hands on another book from the series. My parents spent a fair chunk of change on these books, ordering them off those Scholastic lists we would get at school. Each time, my dad would roll his eyes and tell me how I was wasting my time reading something so bad, but he would never stop me from buying them.
I guess it was always my dad who encouraged me to read. I virtually had a library at home growing up because of all the books he had read and collected over the years. Whether it was through buying me any book I wanted, from Tintin and Asterix comics, to World book Encyclopaedias and the Childcraft series, or through giving me recommendations for more advanced reading, he developed my love of reading. For that, I have to say thanks.
I used to average about 40-50 books a year in my preteens, and that is probably grossly understating it. Granted, some of these were comic books, but they all count in my opinion. Over the past 5 years, during my university career, my average is probably 10-15 a year. Life gets in the way too often. The point of this post before I went on a completely unrelated tangent, was that I need to get back to reading. To that end, here is a list of books I plan on reading in the next few weeks, all loaded up on my Kindle and ready to go:
- Bossypants – Tina Fey
- Treasure Island – R.L. Stevenson
- The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King (mostly to see if it lives up to whatever hype it gets…)
- 1984 – George Orwell (for some reason I never finished this book my first time through)
- The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
- Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift (don’t think I ever read the entire original)
- Moby Dick – Herman Melville (haven’t read this either… man I’ve skipped out on a lot of classics)