The Spark Project is a monthly blog feature where a reader and/or book blogger is invited to talk about that one book that sparked his/her interest in books and reading. He/She will tell us about the what-when-where-why-and-how of this topic, how his/her reading habits have evolved since encountering that book, and so on. Wouldn't it be fun and interesting as well to know how a fellow book lover discovered the wonderful world of books? :)
Hi guys! It's time for this monthly feature again and for June, I asked WILL, another fellow book club member, to share the story of how his love for reading began, and he willingly agreed. :)
Will is one of the few people in the book club whose talent for writing I have always truly admired. He writes simply, concisely, but beautifully and effectively - no florid words used, which (I think) are not even necessary. From what (little) I know about him, he accepts writing jobs. You can check out some of his work over at his blog, MeLikesArt, where he candidly talks about movies, theater, literature, and essentially just about anything that piques his interest. And it's no wonder - I only recently learned (well, when he sent over his answers, that is) that he graduated from college with a degree in Literature, and that he took up the course because of his love for the written word.
Oh, and by the way, Will likes art. He doesn't know about it; he just loves it. ;)
(1) What is the one book that sparked or kindled your love for reading? Describe the circumstances in which you found or discovered it.
Before I start telling about the book, let me recount how I wanted one in the first place. I can’t remember what grade in school I was in—probably 1st or 2nd—but there was this classmate of mine who’d always bring a book every day. I guess not too many people know about M.D. Spencer’s Shivers series—quite similar to Goosebumps, but the difference is that one of the two became a more helluva famous series (three guesses which). Anyway, my classmate would bring Shivers one day and Goosebumps the next day. I remember being the only one in class who was actually interested to borrow. She’d let me browse through them, but she wouldn’t let me bring them home. It was during these weeks when I’d scan the pictureless pages of the books, admire the front covers, smell (yes, smell) the papers, until I was sure I wanted my own.
I got my first book at age six or seven. I was buying groceries with my then new nanny—she’s still with us, and I now call her mommy. Among stalls of fruits and vegetables there was this small shelf full of pocketbooks. Why the supermarket attendants chose to place a shelf of dusty secondhand books in the middle of edible products is still beyond me. So I approached it and looked at the books that were being sold. There seemed to be nothing for me at first: plenty of books with pictures of men and women making out. I remember digging to the bottom of the pile until I saw some editions of Fright Time. I took one and asked mommy if she could buy it for me. She said yes. And that was how I got my very first book, Fright Time #6.
Looking at the price tag of the book, I am still surprised na matagal na pala merong Booksale. I never really cared about how long Booksale has been in existence, but right now, I have become more indebted to support the store.
(2) How has it affected you - both your life in general and as a reader?
A Fright Time book contains three short stories of equal length. Each story focuses on a young individual or a group of kids, all of whom are probably entering their teenage years. Yes, this particular book I got was my preparation for Goosebumps. It’s my only Fright Time book to date, and I forgot about it as soon as I got into R. L. Stine’s more successful series—my first being Fright Camp, so parang puro na lang may “fright” yung titles ng first books ko.
Admitting that you were a fan of Goosebumps is like admitting that you were an avid user of Nintendo’s Family Computer. You’re proud to admit such because back then the books sold like pancakes. It was a cool thing to own a Goosebumps title. Pretty soon numerous classmates of mine started buying their own copies, and there came to a point when we’d borrow books from one another—some copies returned, some “mysteriously vanished.” I guess that was R. L. Stine’s legacy to every child around the world. He didn’t teach us how to read—that job the teachers handled, but he taught us how to read without being asked to do so.
It was these books that inspired me to start writing. In grade school I began writing crappy horror shorts, those types where a ghost in a sheet would appear out of nowhere and scare the hell out of children. Conflicts would be resolved through the most amateurish manners—prayers, a rosary, sunrise, etc.—but I began learning a few things when I began moving on to new novels. I moved on to Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, etc. In a way, those children’s horror fiction books were my groundwork for digesting novels of advanced proportions. And because children’s horror fiction tries its best to provide something new to the genre, I have become a huge fan of twist endings, which I would most likely prefer in a story. The ending doesn’t necessarily have to be as twisted as that of an Agatha Christie story, but it still shouldn’t be predictable even as one is pages and pages away.
And if it wasn’t for that first book I picked up from the Booksale pile, I wouldn’t have chosen a Literature degree in college. Here I am now, a graduate of such course and proud to be one. My work still has something to do with writing, and my love for the written word has grown stronger than ever. So thank you, Fright Time, my first book ever, for allowing me to discover the joys of reading. (Ang drama lang, eh.)
Thank you, Monique!
Thank you, Will, for taking time out to answer my questions and for agreeing to be part of this project. More power to you and good luck to your endeavors! :)