I’ve come to realise that reading is a bit like Marmite… you either love it or you hate it. I know what your thinking – How could anyone hate reading? It’s a foreign concept to us avid bookworms! But alas, it’s true and what’s even worse is I was once one of those people…
When I was a child I absolutely hated reading. It felt like such a chore – just another piece of homework I didn’t want to complete along with times tables and fractions. I think the reasoning behind this wasn’t that the books I had to read were boring, but that I was led to believe that all books were boring in general. There just seemed to be some stigma around reading then – Reading was deemed boring by my peers, and teachers seemed to go the wrong way about getting us to read. They didn’t treat it as this interesting and exciting thing – rather ‘It’s not as bad as you think, so give it a go’, which didn’t really inspire me to pick up a book. It’s for these reasons that whenever I was asked if I liked to read, my response would be ‘I hate reading’.
Then, when I was about 6 a teacher pushed me to read Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone. I grew up watching the films and was in love with the world JK Rowling had created; like every other kid I wanted nothing more than to receive my Hogwarts letter (I was a devastated eleven year old when this didn’t come true). Because of this I decided to give the books a go and obviously I was hooked from the first page. This was a huge turning point for me and I devoured those books with a fierce hunger I’d never felt before. But that didn’t mean I liked to read. I loved the world of Harry Potter and that was why I enjoyed the books but other than that I still didn’t like to read. My stubbornness was the problem. I wasn’t open to reading anything new so I’d just reread the same books over and over again.
It wasn’t until I was about 10 and I explained all this to my Year 6 teacher Miss Marks that I was directed to a series of books called the The Saga of Darren Shan. Of course I didn’t even want to try it. What inspired me to read it was that there had been a film made of the first two books called Cirque Du Freak which I was a lot more willing to try. Of course I loved the film but it had ended on a cliff-hanger. I was desperate to find out what happened next so I finally got hold of the books. It took me a while to get into – The writing style was in first person so it was alot different to what I was used to from reading the Harry Potter books. I persisted through the first book and finally I’d completed it (Sure it had taken me 3 months to finish a 180 page book but I’d done it!) and it felt like a huge accomplishment. Soon I’d devoured all 12 of the books but upon finishing them I’d been left with a book shaped hole. And that was when it clicked. It was the first time I’d actually just wanted to read. I wanted to be sat in the armchair in the corner by the lamp with a good book in my hand. This was the first time that I myself had gone off in search of something new to read. Now I wasn’t quite ready to pick up just anything and persist through it (which is why in those early days most of the books I’d read had film adaptations I’d enjoyed: The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments…)
Because the books I had enjoyed so far had been fantasy books (Magic, Wizards, Blood sucking Vampires…) I knew I wanted another book in that Genre and because I was still so invested in the world of Darren Shan I ended up looking into other books he’d created and found another of His series entitled ‘The Demonata’ and gave it a read. Again I loved it and devoured those too. Over the years I continued to read but the variety of books I’d been reading wasnt exactly sparse. All had elements of Fantasy or were set in some post apocalyptic future, all were aimed at teenagers, all were series books and all had movie adaptations. Not that any of these were bad – Many are still some of my favourite books to date and fantasy has always been my guilty pleasure; but that was all I read. It wasn’t until around year 10-11 when I had to start reading To Kill A Mockingbird for English that I realised that it’s not just dramatic fantasy stories that can be interesting and I’d started venturing into other genres. I was the first person in my class to finish the book – It took me around 3 days to finish while most people spent months on it and of course there were the few stubborn ‘I hate reading’ ‘I can’t be bothered’ few who had barely read the first chapter by the time our exams came around 2 years later (They failed of course). For the record I achieved an A* for English so I guess the effort paid off.
Anyway, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve come to spread my wings and try books of many genres – from modern favourites to treasured classics like Pride and Prejudice. Though despite how far I’ve come over the years on this literary journey I still can’t help but dive back in to books that started it all – the magical world created by JK Rowling and the story of a young boy wizard, who lived in a cupboard under the stairs. After all, I think everyone would like a friendly half giant to kick their door down and tell them they’re a wizard!