I've always been a voracious reader. Don't you just love that collocation, 'voracious reader'? It literally means that you eat books. And that is exactly what I did. I ate them, devoured them. From a very early age, I read and read and read. Voraciously, insatiably, unremittingly. Now, I would also add, indiscriminately. As a child, I read everything I could lay my hands on. (Which, as you can imagine, meant that I read quite a few books I couldn't understand or fully appreciate.)
When I now think about my childhood reading, I see myself in the countryside, at my grandparents' place in the summer. I'd take a book and head off into their huge garden, find myself a spot under a tree (it was too hot in the attic) and spend hours there, lounging in the hot, motionless silence of summer afternoons. I'd get up and pick a pear or go and gorge myself on raspberries. Idyllic is the word that comes to mind and, although my grandparents' house did not have manicured lawns, rose gardens or breathtaking views, this picture always reminds me of English countryside. Must be all the 19th-century novels I read there :)
I've also kept a reading journal. Since 1985. No profound thoughts or enlightened observations there, just a list of books I've read. Ordered chronologically, all 20-odd years of my reading. The first entry is Alexander Belyayev's KEZ Star (Zvezda Kec in Serbian translation), a forgotten classic of Soviet children's science fiction. It seems unbelievable that it was a prescribed school text only 25 years ago!
And I've filled several notebooks into which I copied sentences and passages I liked, sometimes whole pages. I still do that. It may seem pointless nowadays, with all the online collections of all possible quotations from all imaginable books, but I find it difficult to connect to these. These are just heaps of texts, other people's texts, bland, expressionless, meaningless to me. Not my quotations.
These days I read much less. Partly because of all the work-related reading, partly because I have far less time to waste away under a pear tree than when I was 13. But the addiction is still with me. I don't go anywhere without a book, I can't go to sleep if I don't read at least half a page. I'm usually too tired to read more than that anyway, but that's a story for a different kind of post. This year I've set myself a challenge, over at Goodreads, to read 20 books. Not many, but I'm not counting work-related literature. And I'm 2 books ahead already, which I consider to be quite an achievement, as one of them is Murakami's 600+ page The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and another A. S. Byatt's 500+ page Possession. Not that sheer volume matters, but neither of them is exactly a breeze to read.
Now, if you've borne with me this far reading this pictureless post, tell me something about your reading habits. I won't ask you what kind of books you like or who your favourite author is (I've always hated these two questions!). Instead, tell me when and where you like to read and how your reading habits have changed over time.