A proud bookworm

14 January 2020 | Columns

Yandi du Plessis

I have always taken pride in the fact that I am a total bookworm. At least once a year, I get the urge to binge-read the entire Harry Potter series. All seven of them, cover to cover. Getting lost in a great book is one of the simplest joys in life, at least for me. Which is why I am a little upset at the fact that people, especially young people, don’t seem to enjoy reading anymore. When I say “anymore” it is already a bit of a stretch, because as far as I can remember, reading for pleasure was considered to be “nerdy”. And you know what? I am happy to be a nerd.

My mother started teaching me to read when I was two years old. Note that I said “started”, because I wasn’t able to read Harry Potter quite yet. Anyway, she probably started as soon as possible because she is a self-acknowledged bookworm as well. Anyway, whatever her reasons might have been, I am eternally grateful to her. Losing myself in the fantasy world that authors have so lovingly created for us is one of my earliest, fondest memories. In second grade, she got me my first ‘grown-up’ book: Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. I read it till it just about fell apart. When she started teaching me to read, she got me a set of audiobooks (still on tape) and a matching set of hard copies, so I could read along with the tapes. Needless to say, I drove my parents crazy, obsessively listening to and reading along with the stories over and over again. To this day, they can still quote some of the passages by heart. But, however annoying it might have been, it has given me a great advantage in life. Not only does reading vastly expand your vocabulary, it also improves your general knowledge. I don’t mean to brag, but 30 Seconds is about the only ‘competitive sport’ I’m actually good at. Throughout my school years, my friends would always tease me for totally shutting down when I was immersed in a good story. I would go blind and deaf to pretty much anything around me. But they deemed it one of my more endearing qualities. I would go as far as saying my love of literature is the reason I have a career. If it wasn’t for my love of reading, I never would have pursued my degree in language and literature.

There is nothing quite like the smell of a new book, and the sound of it cracking open for the first time. Second-hand bookstores are some of my favourite places in the world. With technology taking over everything and e-books being the new go-to, paperback books are slowly dying out. Now, I won’t be a hypocrite. I do own a Kindle. It’s very convenient for travelling, as you don’t have the need to lug around a heavy set of books. But when I moved to Windhoek at the beginning of the year, it was sad to leave half of my collection behind.

These days, people would rather do ‘Netflix and chill’ rather than curling up with a good book. I admit, I would spend an entire day binge-watching ‘Friends’ or ‘The Big Bang Theory’, but once I rediscover the joy of reading, nothing beats the feeling.

As an aspiring author myself, I would love to inspire a new generation of bookworms. When I say “aspiring author”, I mean that I would love to write a really thick, suspense-filled crime novel. Creative writing is a complicated process that can’t be rushed, and it’s not nearly as easy as one might think. Knowing this, I have so much more respect for people like J.K. Rowling who gave birth to an entire fantasy world that millions of people could enjoy. They give people like me a place to escape to when reality gets to be too much.

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