I’ve always been a reader. I was that kid growing up in the rural Philippines where power outages go on for days without end. That has never stopped me from reading. I was reading in the flickering candlelight till the wee hours of the morning. I was that kid who borrowed books from a friend’s sister’s Loveswept Romance library constantly. I was that kid who starved because I saved all my allowance just to buy second-hand books in the city. The library was poorly stocked in my school. And because it’s a Catholic school, the fiction section was very sparse. So you can say that as far as I can remember, I’ve made devouring of books an Olympic sport.
When I moved to Canada, I’ve found it easier to find books – especially cheap, used copies. Because I’ve never really outgrown my love for romance novels, those are always the kind of things I tend to look for. To my absolute delight, I found that they sell them for $0.25 a piece at a thrift shop near our house. I have three-container-full of these books. I’ve moved at least four times in my life now and they’ve moved right along with me (to my husband’s sheer annoyance).
My reading preferences have always been fluid. It changes depending on where I am in my life. In the early years of the new millennium, I discovered Oprah’s Book Club. Without Goodreads to lead me, I searched for ways to improve my reading taste. Through Oprah’s recommendations, I found a wide-breadth of culture from authors all over the world.
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck was a Pulitzer Prize winner about a Chinese family before the World War I. It was a tough read at times. They went through years of adverse hunger and poverty; abuse and imprisonment. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye was her first novel. It dealt with a lot of controversial issues pertaining to race, incest, and child molestation. It’s about a girl who was dealing with insecurities because of her skin colour. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat is equally startling. It’s about a girl who grew up without a mother in Haiti. Having gained asylum in the States, Sophie’s mother sent for her years later. There, she’d witness the trauma her mother experienced while fleeing Haiti through nightly terrors. Sophie was a child borne of rape. Living with her mother will only highlight the struggles both of them go through about their past.
I don’t know if these are the kind of novels I would enjoy reading now. I find that the older I get, the lower my tolerance for difficult reads. I must say that my taste then has been startlingly different to what I read now. Perhaps I’ve had enough of reality that I’ve turned to impossible romances, unbelievable worlds, and nearly perfect characters to get me through the slog of my daily life. Don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t as depressing as I’m making it out to be. But reading is a form of escape; and if I wanted to enjoy a book, reading about rape and child molestation would not be my first choice.
Shelf-Conscious is a semi-regular feature on the blog where I talk about the books as it relates to my life. I hope you’ll join me next time!