My mind and thoughts are at the home-front. To go… or not to go… When ever I take holidays I don’t fly off to sandy beaches, or party centrals, I simply go home.. whether it’s -26 Celsius or not. A trip home is always the priority. Anyway, before I fall apart and start sobbing over how much I miss that wooded Eastern European country I better get to the point I came here for this morning.
Here I was, thinking about books and home. I’ve always read a lot and I started thinking where exactly did my first reading experiences come from. Here are the things I remember from way back…
My first reading obsession, believe it or not, was the Mickey Mouse comics series. I was about 4 or 5 when my sister who would have been 15/16 at that time started bringing home the comics. She never failed me. As time went by I developed a comic book tower of Mickey Mouse and Friends as high as I was tall that time. Granted, I wasn’t and still aren’t the tallest exemplar. My sister would always bring me the latest copy and I would always put my little blanket on the floor in front of the fire and devour it. From MM comics I moved on to Asterix Comics. (Note: the Astterix comic image is not meant to offend anyone, it’s just the first image I clicked on to add to this post! I’m not heartless, I’m just too lazy to filter through images and find one that would count as a “safe ground” for everyone. Besides, my father looks like Obelix bar the tash and long hair, so no hard feelings!)
My father was mad into the controversial magazines… They were called the “Horisont” (Horizon), “Universum” (Universe) and the “Kolmas Silm” (Third Eye)… so naturally as they piled on the book shelf I got interested. These magazines caused the 6-7 year old me immense paranoia. I mean, reading about UFO’s and other strange stuff really screwed me up. My parents still make fun of my then-obsession with UFO’s… I was scared shitless when my mother asked me to run to the shop for sour cream. It was dark outside, clear sky and I was sobbing on my front lawn for about 10 minutes too afraid to move cause I was so darn sure the aliens were gonna come zooming right down from that beautiful starry sky and snatch me. Oh yeah, the shop was about 100 meters away… But to me, getting the shop-trip request during the darkest months of winter just did not go down well.
I survived that magazine/comics period of my early years and moved on to bigger books. At home, our book shelf was filled with classics and my father’s books. So, from the age 7 on wards I was reading Russian literature and books from Alexander Dumas, James Fenimore Cooper, Jevgeni Petrov, etc. There was Jack London and Erich Maria Remarque- two authors whose books made me sob and sob and sob. Perhaps not the best choice for a child?! Then again, I like to believe they molded my personality.
Anyway, in basic school (ages 6-15) we got our reading lists for every year. The lists were always 35-40 books per school year. Everyone had to read at least 10 of those. In class we had this poster with all the book names and all the students, so when you were finished with the book you could draw a big green X. Check. Nerd as I was, I was the only person in my class through years who read all the books in the list.
My village also had, still has, a library. Ah, the place of wonders. Back when the paper-based systems still ruled I would say me and my sister would have been the Top Visitors. How do I know this? I can vividly recall the thickness of the library “file” every person had. They were stacked on the reception table in a box. Our files were thick like books themselves. Now, it was a good library- it always had the new books, and every section and topic you wanted. Believe it or not, but the magazines shelf also had the naughty section! Right next to the magazines for Good Housekeeping and Knitting Patterns! I shit you not! No wonder I’m emotionally scarred- haha…
Anyway… once I turned 15 the hormones kicked in I guess… I didn’t read as much. Actually, I think I started devouring books again once I turned 19 or 20. In between I partied. Man, did I party! And, study and go to work. So yeah, can’t fit a book in there. You’d think that I’d have a chance for a book or two when traveling from home to wherever I was located at the time, but at the beginning of those logistics I was always studying for Art History tests and later on I hardly used public transport- I hitch-hiked. Naturally, not polite to beg for a lift and then ignore the kind soul by reading. Instead, we kept it Estonian-style: no small-talk! Just uncomfortable silence, or loud Russian rap music.
That would be my reading journey… Here I am now, in the present, downloading books to my smart Kindle app or Kobo and ditching house chores over books. What’s your first memory of reading?