Turning Pages: On Bookworms and Stories

The treasure is in the book.

My Father

I realised I have written many posts about what prompts me to write, without ever mentioning the primary trigger of my writings: reading.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been deemed bookish by the people in my family, my nose always buried deep into a book or another. Even when I had nothing to read at hand, I would pick up brochures, posters, papers, even labels on bottled water, pushing my eyes to their limit, wearing my first pair of glasses at 11, always looking for another story to lose myself in. 

Because escaping from reality is – and has always been- the main reason behind my passion for reading. I love how a good story can snatch you out everyday life, drown your sorrows, make you laugh and cry and imagine new spaces and new lives: all you have to do is turn the page. I strongly believe life can just be too much sometimes, and each and everyone of us deserve a way out: some people turn to alcohol or drugs or sleep or partying or movies or whatever, I just turn to the magic of words and allow them to lead me wherever they’d like. Reading is my drug and I see every new publication as an added flavour to my dependance. 

I love how multi-layered the pleasure of reading is: you first see the book, smell it, a strong inky smell when it’s new, a musty, dusty one when you’re just browsing into a pile of discarded ones in a flea market, start reading it. I choose books upon the first sentences I read: if I feel the silky threads of letters and words weave their web around me, I just buy it, knowing it’ll have a special place in my life.

Some books are speedily, almost greedily read the minute I have them in my hands; others I need to tame, to get accustomed to, to have on my bedside table for a while before daring to enter their worlds. Some were, and still are, passionate love affairs, books that I’ve always gone back to, reading them over and over again until their cover is nothing but a torn faded old picture of what it used to be. Some were bitter disappointment, often occasioned by the critics and media, assessing some boring pose as the new literary revolution, and I would run, gullible as I am, to open said books, only to find the author’s ego splashed across pages instead of the utter genius I was promised. Some I still need to figure out, some I’ve read cover to cover without even being sure I liked. Good books are like old friends: always there for you, I always feel so comfortable in their familiarity.

Books can be seen as dangerous, and are therefore banned, molested, amputated, censored, but they always manage to reappear, saved by the love of a fellow bookworm. Truth is, no one can ever stop knoweldge, creativity, resistance, imagination and love: and what are books, if not all of that, and more?

I am not going to bore you with my top 10 books of all time list (especially because as it happens I simply don’t have one) but I can share with you the books currently on my bedside table:

– Les murs ne font pas les prisons, (currently reading), by Joelle Giappesi, Ed. Tamyras

– Au Coeur du Coeur d’Un Autre Pays, Etel Adnan, Ed. Tamyras

– The Rainbow, D.H. Lawrence, Ed.Wordsworth Classics

– Zeina, Nawal el Saadawi, Ed. Qasi

– Bye bye Babylon, Lamia Ziadeh, Ed. Denoel Graphic

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