Books, Readers / Regina Coyula

With regards to the Book Fair, I’ve noticed that many bloggers are readers of long standing. I started at reading when I was 4-years-old and haven’t stopped. Neither computer games nor television shows have taken away the pleasure of a book. It makes my mouth water to see those electronic readers whose screens are still visible under the light of the sun, because I have a lot of books in digital format, and it bothers me to read them on the computer, spending hours sitting in almost the same position but I have no choice.

I have a little room filled with books from floor to ceiling, (my husband is a writer) and we have made successive donations and in one period we sold the best of our library — sold it for very little indeed — to be able to eat.

But to sit with a book when the house is quiet, I love it. Right now I’m reading Paradise on the other corner by Vargas Llosa. I don’t fixate on his pedigree as a Nobel prize winner; I read everything and I’ve read a lot of forgettable books. In childhood I inherited from my brother some orange hardcover books from the publisher Billiken, and my parents always gave me books as gifts. Salgari, Verne, Proceedings of the Pickwick Club, The Kon Tiki expedition, Little Women, Tom Sawyer, A walk through the house.

I enrolled in the youth room of the National Library and every week I checked out a book. I was in elementary school and I went alone back and forth on the former Route 119, without the parental overprotection that we see now.

I alternated Corin Tellado and Clark Carrados with Les Miserables and Anna Karenina in the school holidays while I finished primary school. During high school I got to Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle and Poe, and those Dragon editions with their long, narrow format which I devoured. By the time I read In Cold Blood, One Hundred Years … and Hopscotch!, which I did not understand at all.

But there are books that are memorable for different reasons. A science fiction novel of the Soviet era called The country of foam I loved so much that when I visited The Hermitage tried to make myself understood without success to reach the sculpture which gives rise to the plot of the novel. I did not want to read it again, because it was a book from childhood in which I might now would find a lot of defects. The Three Musketeers, that I was given in the Reyes edition in 1966, a beautiful hardcover edition and large black and white illustrations. As a young woman I borrowed to read titles like The Godfather, Jackal, Papillon, but classical literature was on the shelves of my house, and between bestseller and bestseller, I improved my reading.

I came late to poetry but it was good for me because it allowed me to “digest,” what I do is to intersperse some poetry between a block of narrative. I married a writer which was also a plus. Our punishment is a child who barely reads.

After so much hedonism, I will list the ten books I would take to a desert island.

The Three Musketeers, The Mysterious Island, The Red and theBlack, Conversation in the Cathedral, The Sound and the Fury, The Tin Drum, Complete Poems of Vallejo, A Thousand and One Nights, The Decline and Fall of Almost The Whole World, War and Peace.

And I’m sure on the desert island I will lament some that I forgot.

February 21 2012