Books are significant in my life. Even though my love for them didn’t start until I was a teenager, they used to define who I was. They were something I found cool, and they made me feel cool. But in college, I took a “break” from reading for fun or leisure. It was only recently that I learned to love books again. When the pandemic happened, I tried to read leisure books. It wasn’t like I immediately went back to my old ways; it took time. At first I read art books, then slowly I started getting interested in books about culture. Some of the books I read were by Nick Joaquin and F. Sionil Jóse.
What brought me back to reading fun books, though, was my book club. My book club is composed of some of my high school friends. We’ve been classmates since grade school, but it was only in high school that we first bonded over books. For our book club, we discuss the book we just read, and then, at the end of the session, we each nominate a book to read for the next month. The discussions would be funny, because we would often have different opinions on the book.
The book club was a great chance for me to get exposed to new books, and it sharpened my reading skills. Aside from that, it is a great bonding experience. We chat with each other about the events in our lives and some ideas that we feel like discussing. For me, it’s a chance to have friends during the pandemic. I see them more now compared to when we were in college.
It’s only now that I realize that reading is a completely different hobby from collecting books
For most of us, our reading doesn’t stop with the book club. Our love for reading goes beyond that, and we buy other books to read. Sometimes, before I buy a book, I ask my friends for recommendations or what their opinion is about a specific book. I learned so much about how to select and collect books. It’s only now that I realize that reading is a completely different hobby from collecting books. Aside from recommending books, we keep each other updated on book-related events like book fairs.
My renewed love for reading was mostly influenced by my trip to a local bookstore in Singapore. My book club friends and my sister recommended it. When I got there, I was so amazed at their selection. I made sure I bought only hard-to-find books or books you can’t find on the internet. After that trip, I told myself that whenever I travel, I need to visit a local bookstore and buy books by local authors.
One thing I enjoy is sharing my books with or recommending them to family and friends. It’s because I’m sharing memories and feelings with them. I want to be able to share my joy and sorrow with them, and to be able to discuss the contents of the book. One book I recommend to people now is Book Lovers by Emily Henry. I love that book. I bought it because friends loved it, and I asked them if it was a nice read. They said yes, and it has to be her best book so far.
I bonded with an 80-year-old over books
Aside from family and friends, I was able to bond with other people through books. I bonded with an 80-year-old over books. She told me that it’s not bad to keep buying them, because someday they might be out of print. She also shares her own stories on collecting books and reading them.
Through my renewed love for books, my book collection is growing again. I feel the need to rearrange them and make sure there’s more shelf space. I’ve seen friends give away books from their childhood and teen years. I thought, “Wow, I can’t do that. My books have too many memories.” But my sister said, when she gave away some books, they’ve already served their purpose and it was time to give them away. For me, I can’t let them go because they have sentimental value, and I’m not sure if they’ll be cared for by another person.
Recently, a friend of mine told me to join a Facebook group related to my interests. So I tried to think of what my interests were, and one of them is, of course, books. I searched Facebook and joined groups that were about books. I checked how many members they had and if they seemed established. The group that I joined has to be really interesting. I didn’t notice it at first, but I get updates from the group. For example, I get updates on different books available in the Philippines and where to buy them. There are also discussions on certain books that they enjoy reading, and I get the gist of what to expect. It’s like I found the company of people who love books as much as, or maybe even more, than me.
My renewed love for books has made me discover different things about me. At first I tried to read books to see my old self, but it was through my reading them that I found a new me. I realized I can now begin collecting. Also, my taste has shifted and the genres I like are different from when I was younger. But books have been a way for me to socialize. It’s been that way since I began loving reading. It’s ironic. Something that seems to invite solitude has been a means for me to connect with others. I believe, with my renewed love for books, I have given myself an opportunity to find a new me.