I began really loving reading around the age of ten or eleven - comics were a big part of it, of course, but also magazines like Time and Newsweek and books. The Hardy Boys series was a huge favourite. Those cliffhanger chapter endings! My love for books really kicked into high gear around the age of fourteen when I started reading adult fiction in paperback form. I would buy them second hand from a local second hand bookshop in Tokyo. The shop was filled with Japanese books, of course, but there were about three or four shelves of titles in English. I chose very carefully. To buy a book and not be able to read it, legitimately enjoy it was something I only did once or twice. I hated to think of the title I had missed or excluded that would have perhaps opened a new world. So, I ended up spending one, two hours in the shop sometimes, before deciding on my purchase. As a discipline, and because I wasn't very cashed up, just one at a time. Unless there were two amazing ones, guarenteed reads that I didn't want to miss out on.
It was a thrill to be able to read 'adult' fiction - whatever I wanted from a young age. It helped me mature, formulate my world view, learn things about the world and it's inhabitants. Authors like John Fowles, Alistar Mclean, Woody Allen and on, that guy who wrote The Joy of Sex, all contributed to my development.
I was known around school for always having at least one, if not two, paperbacks in my blazer side pockets. The commute to and from school was close to an hour - three train lines, two switches - which was two hours a day of extra reading time, thanks very much. There's no question I learnt more from reading books of my own selection than I did from set scholastic studies. It's possible, likely even, that my respect for and love of writing stemmed from my reading passion.
It's a habit that continues today. I always have one book on the go that I will read from cover to cover over a week or two period. Then there are the 'circlers', two or three that I pop in and out of. As well, there are the 'chancers'; ones that deserve a chance - a chapter, 20 pages - if they keep my interested I keep going with them.
These day fiction writing mostly doesn't cut it for me. I visit the library several times a week - generally gravitating towards the art books, of course, but then the auto biographies. Mountain climbers, creatives, criminals, soldiers, inventors... a good yarn told in the first person - particularly one that is honest and illuminating - is satisfying and often inspiring in some way, insight into the headspace of a person who has done something extraordinary.
So, yeah, to me books are beautiful things. Powerful, mysterious, full of promise - teachers of the best kind; they lay it out there for you to discover for yourself. No pushing. No hard sell. A simple invitation... come along for a few steps... if you are compelled to continue, well, let's take the journey together. At completion you will be a slightly different person. You will have evolved.