The Stages of Being a Reader

I’ve given a lot of thought, in my time as a bookseller, and as a reader myself, about the difference in what reading means to us at different ages.

To me, reading has always been at the forefront of my mind and my life. I make time for it, in the evenings after work, on my rushed lunch break, I even used to read on my way home from school. I remember once holding the heavyweight that is the Order of the Phoenix between my thirteen year old hands and being so focused on the words that I walked straight into a lamp post.

I still to this day remember the way it felt when reading finally clicked for me. My parents and teachers, naturally, took their time to teach me the way to read, in theory, but I remember the exact moment I understood, and then there was no stopping me. I read constantly as a child, as a teenager, and now as an adult.

I see this in our customers. We have young children, who sit in the comfy armchair by the front desk and bury themselves in ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ or ‘The Rainbow Fish’ and beg their parents to stay a little longer. We have young adults, who always, always ask for John Green and have gigantic smiles on their faces when we can find copies for them in our vast warehouse. We have people in their twenties, expanding on which genres they like to read and finding books to help them with their studies. Parents, who are looking for an easy read to relax them in their tiny child-free moments. Then there’s the retired folks, who buy piles and piles at each visit and then come back the next week for more.

It’s interesting to me, what kind of reading material we look for in the different stages of our lives. In my childhood, I adored Beatrix Potter and anything else with tiny animals. My teen years were Harry Potter and almost nothing else. Now I look for culturally diverse novels, books of feminist essays, history books, biographies, anything I can get my hungry eyes on. I’m sure that as I get older I will look for something entirely different again, and I think that is fantastic.

The way that books can give us such a diverse life, as much as our experiences can, is brilliant. As it has been said, we truly do live many lives as readers, and I hope I am able to teach that to my children, as my parents did to me.


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