I don’t think there ever was a time when I did not enjoy reading – though there must have been one day when I first picked up a book and realised I liked how the string of words tied prettily together. If I could somehow magically appear next to my small self some 20 years ago when I did pick up that first book, this is what I would have told myself:
1. There’s a long road ahead, and you will never, ever, hope to finish it.
Sorry to start on a bad note but it’s probably the first thing you’ll come to realise very soon: the fact that there are so many books, but so little time. It will become your mantra, a self-fulfilling prophecy, the one axiom truth in life and an anguish shared by every reader. You’ll wish you had Hermione’s Time Turner, so you could turn back that spare hour you had over and over again. Even then, you’re still doomed. You’ll have more books on your to-read list than you’ll ever hope to read in 3 lifetimes. Deal with it.
[Small side note: Hermione’s a character from a book you’ll read. You’ll love her.]
2. While you’re still on your parents’ payroll, you’ll have to get creative
You’ll read the same books 5 times over (I can still recall The Three Pixies by Enid Blyton as vividly as if I’ve just finished it… again. Even the pink cover makes me feel slightly ill now). You’ll clean the public library shelves from every single Nancy Drew book until you start entertaining the thought that you could be a detective too when you’re “OLD” like her (Nancy Drew was 16 in the books. Friggin’ 16!). You’ll read the text on cereal boxes, your mum’s beauty products, anything written purposefully to never be read. Except by you. But that’s ok, you’ll start earning your own cash soon, at which point you’ll realise…
3. New books can be expensive. But absurdly so.
The shoes, or the book? The struggle is real. Every single trip to Valletta will inadvertently end up at a bookshop or another. And it never lets you down. While you would have spent hours meandering shops to buy a new dress for the village festa and found nothing, the bookshop will always find things to entice you with. But buying the book will also mean you have half the money left to actually buy the dress. We all know how that one ends. Which is why…
4. You will have more books than shoes. Or bags. Or pretty much everything else.
You’re not all to blame though! Gifts will usually come in the beloved papery kind too. And there are book sales. And buy 3, pay for 2 offers which only dupes like you fall for. Still, no regrets whatsoever. Fashion fades little one, but books are eternal. (Don’t quote me though. I’m sure it doesn’t go exactly like that).
5. You’ll never feel alone if you have a book tucked in your bag.
There’s something to be said about the reassuring weight of a book which averts even the most horrible of disasters. It’s like a pocket-sized friend you can pack away with you. 1 hour waiting time? (God knows we have enough of them at every department we’re brave enough to visit on this island) No problemo. I’ll just sit here and lose myself in some other world if you don’t mind. Conversely, it’s Armageddon if you realise you forgot your book behind. 1 hour then seems much, much less bearable.
6. One of your favourite Disney movies of all time will be Beauty and the Beast. And we all know why.
The library! The books! The rows upon rows of beautiful leather bound books! Those spiralling staircases which take you to the books! The fireplace you can cosy up next to – with books! Seriously though, that library. Eye candy. Enough said.
7. #BOTD is the new #OOTD
Outfit Of The Day? No offence but I don’t think anyone will want to see your minimalist fashion sense. In any case, you will soon learn that books look GORGEOUS on your Instagram wall. That interplay between spines and scrawls, the perfectly poised candle on a stack of fantasy books, the fairy lights draping over the shelves. And the timeless touch of the small, white bust of the frowning Davide as he holds a row of Ancient Rome-themed books in place. Totally snap-worthy.
8. You’ll realise there is nothing sweeter than the prospect of a cuppa or a glass of wine and a book to end the day.
All the toils and stresses seem to melt as you make yourself comfortable on your favourite corner of the sofa, book in hand, cup within reach. Books have the refreshing tendency of ironing out frowns and creases in the forehead and around the lips as it takes you on a journey far away from where you sit. I guess that’s why you’ll come to love historical fiction and fantasy more than anything. The worlds, so different from your own, will make sure any troubles resting on the mind get pushed to the very back.
9. People who relate will love you. Those who don’t will think you’re sad.
A special kind of bond is created between readers. A knowing look passes, a message which acknowledges an ally, a player on the same field. Hearts open easier, trust is built quicker. In a way it’s like you’ve known each other for years. Maybe you have met before on the same page. You may have talked to the same people. You shared things. The people who scoff at books and call them “boring”, I don’t think you should take it personally. After all they’re missing out on so much. Unlike you…
10. You will get to live a thousand lives, see a thousand places and know a thousand stories. And it will never be enough.
You’ll never be satiated, like a perpetually dry plant which absorbs all the water that it’s given, and keeps begging for more. You’ll fall in love with fictional characters, you’ll laugh at their antics, you’ll cry at their deaths and when you turn the last page of a particularly good book, you’ll wish you had taken it slower. It’s always with a sense of loss that you put that book back in place. Like saying goodbye to a friend you know you’ll never meet quite on the same terms again.
I guess you could say books form my backbone. Everything I know, I owe mostly to books, my parents and teachers who pushed me to read, and to the authors who made me dream.
“Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.”
(from the person who knows a thing or two about magic, J.K. Rowling)