I majored in (BA) English & Literary studies (literature). It got me thinking why I have this messy psychosis where my brain is so confused by the level of information I had it retain over a number of 4 years.
I read over 406 books in university averaging about a 100 each academic year.
Please don’t go, wow! because this wasn’t out of choice (I actually hated reading books at the time- I was a teenage girl ffs!) it was rather out of circumstance or should I say compulsion. There was a streak of choice there too. The desire of having to pass my exams. An example here—say we had 20 books originating from one course of syllabus, our exams could be set on/from a random number of those 20 books or all 20.
You are unable to answer exam questions if you haven’t read the 20 books. There was no short cut to this. No matter how genius you were. Sorry!
They could set questions from any chapter or page(s) so if you haven’t read the book (not scanned through it) and I mean- actual reading and articulating, then you are totally screwed more or less.
From the Shakespeare’s, to the Dickens, to Hardy’s Tess of the D’ubervilles, to Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby and Wole Soyinka’s series of complex unfathomable poetry, I read, I read, I bought books and read and read until I started to hate reading. It became boring and compulsive, cumbersome, tiresome and painstaking indeed.
Maybe schooling in Africa also does that to you. It was hot, stuffy, humid and distressingly hot. My brain had to articulate these books written centuries ago by mostly medieval English literally gods and veteran authors. It was hard but I passed my exams and in my final year, funny enough, I began to miss literature as I had focused on specialising in qualifying in English language by studying areas like the 22 accents of English and the history of RP, English English, psycholinguistics, semantics, phonology etc. I had great teachers. I hated only 1. There is always that one!!!
Anyway, I wondered why I struggled reading books at a later phase of my life. Maybe university was the time when the universe instructed me to read all these books I could possibly muster to be able to gain a qualification, an education and then deal with the consequences of literature overload and attention deficit syndrome in the future.
Subsequently, the true Gemini in me began to camouflage it’s features when I read.
I became a dirty little promiscuous whore when it came to my reading habits. Yes! I would start a Zadie Smith, read half way through it, pick a Lucy Mangan, read half way through it, pick a James Patterson, read half way through it and so on and so forth until I found I was reading 101 books at the same time!!! I abandoned books half way when a friend or colleague recommended a ‘great’ book. My excitement won’t stop for Amazon until I buy the new book, dump the current one, as it joins the abandoned lovers on the dusty bookshelf. Till further notice.
Yes I admit to being a pathetic-typical-Gemini-serial-book-adulterous-whore and of course I can’t help myself. Then I tell the books each time, sorry it’s not you its me, I will come back to finish you. And so it goes on and on until I made a new year resolution in 2014. Check it out on one of my other write ups. The one about reading at least 12 books a year. I actually accomplished it. Yeehaw! And so the book adulterer repented and became tamed.
What sort of reader are you? Do you finish books? Do you read multiple books at the same time?
Have I got the book reading disease?
Oh yes, it’s also made me a hopeless romantic…