Filipino Friday is a meme in celebration of the upcoming Filipino Reader Conference. And here’s this week’s topic (no time for a lengthy introduction this time):
July 27 – School of Reading. We all started reading somewhere, and more often than not, we were influenced by someone. Who got you into reading? Your parents? A friend? A librarian? One teacher who always lends out his/her books? How helpful was your school in helping your reading habit/fueling your book addiction?
Who got you into reading? – Hmm, no one really. I just realized one day in college that I have to read books outside the requirements of school. I felt that I needed to do it lest my brains stagnate from boredom. How I came to that realization has to do with my discovery of Book Sale. You see, in my hometown, the first time that a Book Sale branch opened was only in 2004. When I checked out the books, I realized that I could read a lot of good books without having to spend much on them. So there, it’s Book Sale that really got me into reading.
But that doesn’t mean that I never read as a child. I used to collect Disney fairy tale books when I was nine. And then there were also my X-Men comic books. I eventually outgrew them a couple of years later.
Your parents? – My parents aren’t readers, but I remember that my mom used to buy me those informational books about random stuff. One of them is about dinosaurs. It’s one of those books that have full-page illustrations with accompanying texts. I wish I still have that book.
A friend? – I don’t have a lot of bookish friends outside our book club. All my bookish friends, I met them there. So yes, I just initially wanted to meet people who hoard and read books. That was granted, and I was also granted their friendship.
I have only one bookish friend who’s not from our book club. I met him when I was a college freshman. We were seatmates in a theology class. One time, I went to Book Sale, bought a copy of Independence Day by Richard Ford, and brought the book to class with me. He saw it and probably read its blurb. Whenever we talk of our college days, he always claims that that was the moment he got into reading. And yes, Ford is one of his favorite writers.
A librarian? – Our high school librarian was very fond of me maybe because I used to hang out a lot in the library and assist them in any way that I can. But that alone did not spur my voracious reading. A trivia: just to please our librarian, I used to borrow books without even reading them! I did that so that I could fill out my library card and impress our librarian. Good thing that she never asked about the books that I borrowed.
One teacher who always lends out his/her books? – I actually never had a teacher who does that. And if I were a teacher, I don’t think I’d lend out my books to students. I might, only if I sense that the student has this real desire to read.
How helpful was your school in helping your reading habit/fueling your book addiction? – The one important thing that sparked my reading was our high school book report in sophomore year. I picked To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, just because the most popular student of our school that year also picked that one when he was a sophomore. But I enjoyed the novel. In fact, I want to reread because I have mostly forgotten the details.
What does all of these say? I think reading is an acquired habit. No outside force could sway one to the reader’s path unless there’s a reader within the person in the first place. True, the media may from time to time inspire someone to read a bit of say, Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray. But after that, what?
I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but there are a lot of people whose set of read books include only those promoted heavily by the media. To illustrate, I have a cousin who has a big crush on Robert Pattinson (okay, I also like the guy, but I like him better in the adaptation of Cosmopolis). So this cousin bought all the Twilight books, and they’re the only books that she ever read. I even think that she was only able to finish the first book (my sister tells me so).
The real reader will get out of his way to find the books that he really wants to read. Of course, there’s some help from the media (it’s a huge help, really), but the real readers choose not to be spoon-fed and aren’t spurred by sheer crush or overhype.