Books - that's what I am thankful for today. I can't remember the first book I read. Pretty sure it was Kathy and Mark though. Growing up I read anything that was given to me. I devoured Enid Blyton books - Amelia Jane my first favourite character, then I moved onto The Magic Faraway tree, The Wishing Chair, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven and, of course, The Mistletoe farm books. Detective stories were my favourite. I may have been a little obsessed with Nancy Drew. I thought I was a pretty good detective actually. My imaginary friend, Jody, and I solved heaps of crimes together. We did it in secret though.
I remember my Dad bought a series of books home once after he'd been away on a business trip. The novelty of these books was that you got to choose which direction the plot would take. The main character would be faced with some sort of obstacle or choice and you, as the reader, choose for them. Option 1: go to page 16. Option 2: go to page 32. Loved them. Of course, I always read them enough times to go through all the options.
I developed this compulsion to read from cover to cover any book I ever start. My reason for this is a simple one. It takes a lot of work, dedication and courage to write a novel so I feel the least I can do is read every word. So even if I am still bored and not being sucked in by the characters I will read till the end. It is also means that I sometimes read more than one book at a time. The first time I did this I was 11. I started reading The Lord of the Rings. It had been staring at me from my Dad's bookshelf for a while. Too soon I think. How many 11 year old children do you know who could read a book where the author takes about 4 pages to describe a tree? Clearly I didn't fully appreciate the mastery of Tolkien back then but I got through it. Took me about 6 months. I started reading other books in between. I have read it again since then and it was much more enjoyable the next few times.
I'm not really fussy about the genre I read either. I'll really read anything. I went through my Sweet Valley High stage, read some Mills and Boon (am I not supposed to admit that?), Danielle Steele and I even read Catherine Cookson whenever we went to stay with my Granny as she was her favourite author back then.
Still read anything that is given to me. I have my favourite classic authors: Austen, Alcott, Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Dickens and the list goes on. More modern authors like Jodi Piccoult, Stephen King and probably my very favourite of all is Bryce Courtenay. The Power of One is still one of the best reads I've ever had. He made me want to be able to write a good story not just read them. This man had such a great gift for telling a story, on paper and in person. I met him actually. A few years ago I attended a writing workshop he facilitated in South Africa. One of my life altering experiences. I've just finished reading his latest novel Jack of Diamonds. Another epic story. An example of what made him such a great writer - at one point he is describing a rather violent scene and the main character (um Jack) is possibly about to be hurt. The scene he created in my imagination was so vivid that I closed my eyes because I didn't want to watch what was about to happen. I'm going to miss those moments. You never quite get them in a reread.
So I am thankful to books. Thankful that I have them to escape into. Thankful for the hours of entertainment they have given me. Thankful that as long as I have eyes to see I will have books to keep me company on those long trips, warm baths, hot days lying on the beach, waiting and just when I feel like them. When my eyesight goes I now have audio books to look forward to. The fun of books will never end.