The Allure of Books

girl reading a book

The first gift I ever treasured while I was growing up was a hardbound book (a Nancy Drew mystery, The Spider Sapphire Mystery; Carolyn Keene) from my aunt who used to work in a bookshop — definitely a huge deal for a young impressionable girl whose reading materials mainly consisted of magazines, comic books, textbooks, and other school-related materials.

I remember tearing through the wrapping with mounting excitement and had this foolish grin plastered on my face. It made me feel like I had grown up in some way — or at least old enough to be given something different that was mine alone. I began reading that book and did not let go until it was time for supper (my parents had this strict rule about not missing dinner for frivolous reasons hehehe).

It hardly mattered that I could barely understand half of the book’s content (with my limited English vocabulary). I was too wrapped up in the story and the exciting potential that this new activity presented. Up until then, the only outlet I could find for my fertile imagination was the endless stream of pencil sketches I drew that used to exasperate my mother (because of the litter it left behind). Suddenly, my world had expanded in ways I had never imagined.

And so began my lifelong affair with books and reading (for which I have my aunt to thank).

book giftMany years and books later, I can still remember that exact moment when I began to realize that with books, my world need not be bound within four walls, and that there were countless others who obviously felt the same way I did (with millions of books borrowed, exchanged, sold, and re-sold throughout these years, who could doubt it?). To me, books (and reading) would always represent an escape and a refuge, a place where I can lose myself, expand my horizons, and “experience” things vicariously.

And that Nancy Drew book? It is still in our house, nestled in the old bookcase that my mother could not bear to part with when we moved to a bigger place. It looks battered and dog-eared in several places, and the pages have turned yellow and somewhat brittle, but it remains in place with some of my childhood books. I remember digging it out gingerly the last time I went home for a short vacation. It looked like a slight shove could easily it break apart, but I just could not bring myself to throw it away.

Maybe in a few years, my niece (who they say is a lot like me) would feel its irresistible pull as I once did. Or maybe she won’t. Most likely by that time e-books would be a better option, or perhaps she would prefer other books. For now, it stays where it is — a living memento of my childhood days and a silent witness to my love for books and reading.

 

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9 thoughts on “The Allure of Books

  1. Nancy Drew is also my favorite! May nabili ako recently sa second-hand bookstore and gave it to S. She didn’t like it immediately, but a few days ago, she went to me and said, “remember the Nancy Drew book you gave me that I wouldn’t read? It’s very good, and I have already finished it.”

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    • O, di ba? There’s a reason why Nancy Drew books continue to be published (it’s definitely a consistent money maker for Grosset & Dunlap). It may not be as popular as it once was, but it retains its unique charms. And for young girls who are trying to explore the boundaries of their world, the ND series is definitely a good choice. 🙂 Mas gusto ko pa rin yung mga naunang books though, as in di na ako masyadong nakaka-relate sa mga bagong titles and parang di na yung Nancy Drew na alam ko.

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    • Actually the publishers only continued to use the name “Carolyn Keene” as a convenient pseudonym after they realized that they needed to keep a link to the first few books since masyado ng popular ang Nancy Drew series. Balita ko kasi nag-hire na lang daw sila ng ghost writer to perpetuate the series, kasi nga early part of the 20th century pa to nagsimula and the original author would have died a long time ago.

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  2. I got into reading as a hobby later in my life. That’s why I only hear but I’m not familiar with Nancy Drew, Alice in Wonderland and other children and teen books. I noticed that people who love to read can write well. 🙂

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    • For some of us, reading Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, or Bobbsey Twins was like a rite of passage. It was the first step you took before delving into something a bit more darker (e.g., Agatha Christie), or mature (romance novels) or serious (the classics, for me) as you grew up. I’m glad I started out with it because it certainly widened my vocabulary, piqued my curiosity, and introduced me to other readers who would usually recommend other books. Edelweiza, I expect this is true in your case, too (“…people who love to read can write well”). 🙂

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  3. Love those hardbound Nancy Drew books. I’m stuck in that vintage 50’s look of Nancy Drew. Wish I had kept my copies; I don’t know where they are now. My faves were The Mysterious Mannequin and the one about bagpipes. I’d like to scour Recto again and look for these vintage editions. I want my girls to read them, too!

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  4. I know. 🙂 I liked the fact that even the 1950s version retained the 1920s-1930s version (the first 7 or 8 books I think) of their covers. They’re like relics of a bygone era that became more valuable as time went on.

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