Occasionally a colleague of mine tries to berate me for 'not reading enough'. What he means to say is that I should read more Dutch books. But Dutch books always tend to be extremely flowery and they use so many big words. Words that somehow don't seem to fit with the book. So I stopped reading them. Instead I read in English. And if there is a big word, I can always blame my lack of knowledge of the English language!
I love to read and if I see a bookstore, I will go in and see if I can find a nice book. I've been known to spend over three hours in one shop, just picking and choosing. I will always come out with a nice book, be it by a writer I know or someone I've never heard of. I usually go to England, Ireland or Scotland with one book and return with a minimum of four! And if I don't like the book, I leave it behind: there might be someone out there who does like it.
Bookstores draw me in, ever since I was small. My mother was extremely glad I could read on my own, because she hated reading out loud to me. Once I'd learned to read however, the gate was off the dam (as we say in the Netherlands) and I would read anything. In Dutch still, but after starting high school, I would also start reading in English. I remember having to read 'The Importance of Being Earnest' in class. Everybody would get their turn to have to read out loud, yet I never did: I was chuckling away about 25 pages ahead of everyone else. My teacher never bothered... I read 'Pride and Prejudice' for school as well, even though I had to read it about three times before I understood (English, Dutch translation, English again).
Now you might wonder what the sign at the top of this post has to do with reading. Well, it was a sign I found on a small bookstore in Llangollen, Wales, while we were on our way to Ireland. And I totally understand. Books are to be treated with respect. I would never fold down a page, I use a bookmark. Books take you to places you didn't know existed, they make you smile on a bad day, they make you cry on a fantastic day. Books give you the world.
So, if you ever find yourself with sticky hands about to go into a bookstore, just wipe them on your trousers, find the nearest wash basin, but don't go in!