Last night I stayed up late to finish reading George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I don’t know why. I’ve seen the HBO show, and therefore I knew what was going to happen, and certain events were not any less traumatic on the page as opposed to onscreen. Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment. Or perhaps it’s because the books are so well written, I couldn’t help getting sucked into the sprawling, yet amazingly detailed narrative Martin has created. Last night I only meant to read a chapter before turning out the light, but it was about halfway through that chapter that I came to what I’ve come to know as the no-turning-back point. I’ve become quite familiar with this point over the years, and I know better than to try and resist it, because the no-turning-back point is when you get to a certain point in a great book where you can’t stop reading, and instead you must stay up until you’ve turned the last page, no matter how long this takes. Trying to ignore this point is futile, because I’ve long since learnt that doing so only leads to sleepless nights where your brain refuses to turn off until you invariably turn the light back on, usually somewhere around 4AM, to continue reading. As much as these moments make the day after a drowsy affair, I love them, because there’s no better feeling than getting lost in a good book. I also remember quite vividly the first time I encountered a no-turning-back book. I was six, and the book was Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I can’t remember what caused me to pick up the book in the first place, although I have a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with a child’s glee over finding a book written by someone with the same name as me. Nevertheless, pick it up I did, and I was quickly drawn in to this story of a young pioneer family living off the land in the American frontier. In particular, the book’s detailed descriptions of making all manner of food and clothing from scratch fascinated me, because it had never occurred to my six year old self that there was ever a time when you could not simply go to the store and buy whatever you needed.
One night while waiting for my parents to call me for dinner, I curled up on my bed to read a chapter. This particular chapter was called “Dance at Grandpa’s”, and although I don’t remember exactly what it was that held me so enamoured, it quickly became clear to me that I wasn’t putting this book down anytime soon. The sky outside slowly darkened as I sat for hours becoming more and more engrossed in the story with each turn of the page. It was a magical moment, because it was in that moment that I realized the power and beauty of reading, and how books could transport you into another world and give you access to stories you never thought possible.
Needless to say, from that point on I was hooked on reading, and for the rest of my childhood you could usually find me with my nose buried in a book. Since that day I’ve devoured thousands of them; some good, some not so good, but every once in awhile I find that rare book that sweeps me off my feet, and I know that it’s only a matter of time before I hit the no-turning-back point. I look forward to these moments with an unabashed glee, not only because of the joy they bring me, but also because whenever it happens, I feel like that little six year old girl again, re-discovering the joy of reading. From Laura Ingalls Wilder to George R.R .Martin, and all the authors in between, thanks for the magic.