Readercon Filipino Friday Week 2: Your Reader's Story
I can clearly trace my love for stories and reading back to grade school, to D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, and the three friends with whom I shared this initial fascination with reading. I'm grateful for that moment when one of those friends found this book in our school library and shared it with the rest of us. That was the moment our enjoyment of tales and reading began. We dared to even retell the Greek Myths in our own words. From there, from that love of the Greek myths, we moved on to Alexander, Lewis, Tolkien. Then we began reading anything and everything else. We did this together, as a group, and frankly, it felt good to have friends with whom one could share our thoughts and opinions on the stories we read. Despite reading being a solitary pursuit, I can see the value of having fellow reading-enthusiasts spur each other on to good reads.
As I grew older, saw more of the world, and got more of life under my belt, I naturally began to demand more from what I was reading. That was when I expanded my material from what I was usually reading. In other words, I went out of my younger comfort zones, and opened myself up to different tones, styles, cultures, authors. I began to read writers from other countries, not just the US or England. I discovered writers from Japan, Spain, Latin America, and China (translated, of course); from Africa, Canada, Australia, India, and from my own country, the Philippines. I heard, or rather, read, different voices, how different terms and forms of speech were used, how situations can be as different as the new settings I was reading about. This taught me that people love stories, will tell their stories, no matter how different or where they are in this world.
I found myself not just going forward by reading the latest, but to meet my demand for expansion as a reader, I also went backwards, to stories written earlier, the classics, so yes, even if these stories may yet still be set in the US or England (or not), the very change in the times the stories were set in drew me to new worlds as well. Let me put it this way: after having read the fantasies of Tolkien and Lewis, reading the original Aeneid and Odyssey (not the simpler versions, but the ones that go into full detail), or reading the verse form of Beowulf, can be quite a challenge, one with great rewards if one puts the effort in.
How else can I put this? Well, I haven't read Twilight yet, which I heard is a romance tale with vampires, I wonder if the readers of that series, after growing older, may find themselves trying out the romances of Austen, or perhaps going even further and reading Stoker's Dracula, which would give them one of the original perspectives of the vampire. I wonder how Potter fans, after Hogwarts, would consider the different world where the wizardry school of Le Guin's Earthsea book can be found, how different Ged is from Harry, not just as wizards, but as people, yet how they have motivations that overlap and move them in their own ways.
Then, I moved on to non-fiction: histories of different times and countries, biographies of different people, reading about how things work, about ideologies and politics, about languages or even travel books, about wars, real wars, like World War I and II, and how this all fed my curiosity of this very interesting world.
And through it all, through reading all these books, I found out through all these stories, that people are moved by the same emotions no matter their background: joy, sadness, anger, revenge, bitterness, elation, love, hate, greed, generosity, empathy, desire, etc. So many different stories, so many settings, so many varied characters and types of conflict, some set in the real world, some completely imagined, but what moves the intention of these characters is the same, the human experience.
And here's something that gives me comfort: that despite my having moved quite a distance from where I originated in my reading experience, I know that I can always go back to those same books, or even those same types of books, that I read before, and still enjoy them with the eye and pleasure that I started out with as a younger person. In a way, it's nice to know that that kid who started reading a long time ago is still alive and well deep down inside.