Wednesday, March 30, 2011

when i was younger (part 2: books)

my talent for mathematics wasn't that surprising to me.  i could trace back to when i was probably like 5, when my dad gave my sister and me books on math to solve.  the reason why i probably did them with such fervor was that i was so sheltered at the time (or probably that my parents were too poor to afford anything of fun at that age) that doing math was the only kind of fun i had.  in fact, i didn't think it was to any great intelligence of mine (i used to have this theory when i was younger that people who weren't MR had the same basic potential for intelligence), but from just constant repetition and practice.

however, being the parents that my parents were (re: raising harvardian children), my mom was concerned that i wasn't becoming a "well balanced" asian kid, and that i needed some skills in the english department.  her solution, was books.  lots of books.

i'd always love when i was in grade school when they would bring around those book ordering forms for scholastic, where i'd fill out what i wanted myself (only to have mom knock off a few extraneous items, but she did let me get the occasional calvin and hobbes comic).  my mom would also drive me to the library every week to pick out books to read.  i can't remember exactly what i got every week, i'm sure they included classic kid books like "the westing game" or "a wrinkle in time", or mystery series like "encyclopedia brown" and every roald dahl book i could find my hands on.  when i read a book, i carry it with me wherever i go, couch, dinner table, bathroom, etc.  the hardest part was reading on the bed in a comfortable position when i had glasses on (reading on the side required holding the book closer to my face because you can't wear glasses with the head to the side, and reading with the head laid down required me to raise my head some way or use arm strength to hold the book up, and reading with your face downwards required your arms to prop you up, which wouldn't do for hours).  i used to be able to read for an entire day (i think i finished harry potter 4 in one sitting).

reading books became another sort of accomplishment thing, kind of like finishing them was a goal.  i read through the old testament when i was 9 once just to do it (retaining like 1% of what i read).  i think i tried to read through a mini encyclopedia once, but concluded that it was not nearly interesting enough to do that.  i would just want to finish everything.

we would probably spend an hour or so in the library, with me just going through my favorite sections, looking for new additions and what not, probably wasting some time in the magazine section looking at video game mags etc.  i remember that library pretty clearly, the different sections, the walls where they had a little artistic mural where kids would put up some sort of sticky thing for every book they read for some sort of prize (does anyone ever remember that read a book promotion thing by pizza hut like way back when?), and the card catalog section.  i remember looking through the card catalog thing (so archaic now probably), and thinking to myself,

"there are too many books to read.  i will never be able to read them all before i die!"

i probably then calculated all the books that would probably actually be of interest to me, narrow it down, but still conclude that there would not be enough time to do it all.  it all became very sad, but then i would just reflect on how many lives that have actually existed on earth, and how the people populating it would still just write books too fast for me to consume.  it all became very overwhelming, but eventually, i think it clicked that i would eventually just have to carve out a niche of books for myself to enjoy, and that would be that.

soon after, when i started going to high school, i lost that need to burn through books.  i wonder if the fact that i would never finish them all deterred me from that thirst.  i wonder if that applies in other things in my life now as well.

1 comment:

eCho said...

i remember the pizza hut thing! hehe. good times.