Long ago I lost myself in books. The day I gained my freedom was the day my mother took me to sign up at the public lending library. A place of peace and tranquility unlike the noisy places we have now in the fast reducing number of remaining buildings the local authority have allowed to survive their budget cuts.
Books at school were a nightmare and so many I hated, the absurd fantasy of Alice down her rabbit hole, the violence of Treasure Island or the anthropomorphic rabbits, toads or whatever meant to amuse, I shudder even now just typing out their titles. If I liked a school reading book I would smuggle it home and read it but if I did not like it nothing would get me to read it! This convinced my teacher that I could not read and she suggested the public library to my mother. The hoe was almost devoid of books and I have no memory of either parent ever sitting down and reading us children a story or even reading for their own pleasure, a book desert...
The library was walls of books! How on earth was I ever going to find the books which interested me? My first rule was no smelly books, what on earth did some people do to these books to make them smell so rank? Rule two would have been rule one if the smell of some books had not been so gut wrenching and it was clearly, no girl's books. I knew they existed, I had found them when visiting cousins and had made furtive dips into them and got a thrill like I am told teenage boys leaf through forbidden porn magazines. This was my pink porn and I should never let anyone see me show any interest! A quickly discovered rule three was, cut down searching time by only seeking out fresh new purchases.
That was how I discovered science fiction and devoured Jules Verne and H G Wells which thankfully were not very popular and stayed fresh. There were surprisingly few books that I could find that were written for me, a sensitive soul not interested in anything boyish. I often drifted off to non fiction instead, I filled my head with stuff. Perhaps if I had friends they would have shown me the way to books for school age children but I somehow doubt it.
Once way from home in my late teens with friends reading for English degrees I suddenly found a ready supply of fiction at last, very little of it contemporary, books of ideas, little sex or violence, I read for years from this rich seam of classics. By my late twenties I was drifting lost again, few contemporary books spoke to me, I found few books of interest and those at random. By now rule two should have been irrelevant, books aimed at women were freely available to me if I wanted them but there was an invisible barrier. If I reached through that barrier those books would infect my mind, they would show me a glimpse into that other world and infect me like a parasite itching through to my soul. I resisted.
Once I got online all my reading was of one subject and off the screen. Years of blogs from fellow sufferers, the whole of life was there with no two stories the same. As strange if not stranger than any fiction, these histories had me hypnotised, showed me I was not alone and helped me find my way forward. Those blogs have slowly dried up as their writers found their way forward and into the light, the screen now is usually blank, nothing to read!
At last rule two has been scrapped, all rules on books have been scrapped and I now find I have time and freedom to indulge in my longtime desire for women's books. It is not all easy, I am not prudish about sex but have no interest in poorly written sex scenes, number specified by publisher to satisfy contract. Sex in books does not give me the tingle the authors hope for, it is not on my radar and does not interest me, I crave emotion. I have spent a couple of days wondering if there is an equivalent word to lustful for someone longing for emotional tingle.
I should almost be embarrassed by some of the books I have been reading compared with my English literature only days but being able, finally to wallow in emotion and let floods of tears flow and heart bump is an unexpected bonus of transition...