Today, after giving my bedroom a good sweeping, I turned out the book cases- three of them. As I brought out each cherished book for dusting and careful mending with the ever present reliable gum; reflection sank in over how many of them - and in different genres- I'd accumulated over the years. Reading has been a huge part of me since I was a child.
Primary school: Aside from the books mentioned above- my reading preferences were mostly Enid
Blyton's books, Nigerian folktales and non-african tales (Cinderella, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast etc.) including Macmillian's Pacesstters series'. But once I got to secondary school- I entered the full length era ; African and Non African. Chiamanda Adichie's Purple Hibiscus & Half of a Yellow Sun didn't exist then but there was Flora Nwapa's Efuru and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and I discovered the Nancy Drew books
But there were also what I called the 'more grown up books' which I had to hide from my parents. Well actually, I didn't have to hide my first romance book ; Barbara Cartland's Love in the Clouds because it belonged to my mother, hence it was lying around for all to see. (Presently I have over 40 second hand Cartland novels).
I was a fast reader so they wanted to see if I could finish it by the next morning (I'm happy to say that I did) and I got a few more from them until I saved up my allowance to buy my own. In between there were also comics- mostly Beano, Whoopee & Chips, Superman, Batman, Tintin, Asterix and Archie. But comics were more to have a laugh and not actually while away the time (well, except Tintin & Asterix) so I stuck to books instead. Alas, against my better judgment I lent my classmates a lot of my precious Mills & Boon romance books and never got them back. When I began putting my foot down; my books began disappearing from my school bag and no one came forward to expose the thief. It was one thing for my property to be stolen from me but being ganged up against was simply foul. Embittered, I kept my books at home and stopped lending them (a regime I still practise today), in a bid to rebuild my library and show I will not be taken for a sucker again.
Over the years, my library has grown bigger; more classics (both English and American) and more up to date books like Dan Brown's Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code etc. The Harry Potter books of course and others like John Grisham, Barbara Taylor Bradford and I even dared to venture to the horror books- starting with Stoker's Dracula then Dean Koontz's Phantoms. When I began reading Stephen King's The Tommyknockers I was very bored so I discarded it, along with Dreamcatcher. But Misery, Pet Semetary, Skeleton Crew, Different Seasons, Green Mile proved more promising so I'm a King fan too.
When I was still a teacher, I did my best to make my students understand that they would get higher grades in English Language; especially in essay writing if they read more but unfortunately very few of them paid any attention and I was made out to be the bad guy. And some people I know seem contemptuous when they see a book in my hand, making the word 'novel' seem like the word 'Hustler magazine'. What exactly is their problem; their lack of interest in books shouldn't be spread to others, should it? And alas, most kids in my country seem more inclined to read comics and watch movies instead of reading, even with this digital era of
Sorting out my books this morning, I gave a silent thanks to my Dad. He was not exactly an easy man to live with and hard to please but I'm glad he made us understand the pleasure of reading. If I wasn't an avid reader like him, I wouldn't be a writer today. Reading will always be a part of me. And my library will- God Willing-keep getting more additions. After all, one can never have enough books!
(except for the image of Nancy Drew & the Kindle; all the images of the books in this post are from my bookshelves)