I’ve always been curious. I’ve always had a yearning to look at the world and understand how everything worked; when I was a kid, I’d pepper my dad with various questions, like how the aquarium aerator worked, or why the sky was blue.
I was also very much a loner as a child. I found it difficult to relate to other kids, and they were puzzled why I was more interested in books and the random things I’d learned that day.
My parents had bought an entire children’s encyclopedia, Childcraft, which I eagerly and voraciously consumed in my spare time. I’d always wanted to chase down every little stray thought and question I had, and in school I felt bored and disinterested by the rote memorization that was the bread and butter of each lesson – there were scant few opportunities to explain the whys of things, and we were often told to take things as Gospel truth.
Honestly, I was probably a pain for some of my elementary teachers, who probably gave me some leeway for not paying attention, since more often than not, smart alec I was, I’d answer if called to recite.
I took the school bus, one of the last kids to be picked up on the route to school; on the way home, I’d be one of the first or one of the last on the route, and I never did figure out why. Anyway, one of my busmates, an girl a year older than me, usually had a few books with her. Every time I sat beside her, I’d take a look at the books she was reading at the time, and more often than not, I’d boldly ask to borrow after she’d read her fill for the trip. “Borrow?”, I’d ask her, not quite after she’d closed the book and put it on her lap.
I must have been in second or third grade then, and wasn’t quite aware of the presence of the grade school library yet; of course, in hindsight, that’s where she had gotten them in the first place, checking them out herself. So, you’ll have to forgive me for not even knowing you could do that!
Once I discovered the library though, I parked myself in there often, spending some of my recess time, sometimes skipping a lunch or two, to read through the stacks. I’d pass by right after dismissal time, to try to check out a few books before they closed for the day. I discovered BASIC and other stuff that eventually led me to my career.
I must have spent countless hours in college as well in the library, browsing the stacks, trying to wrap my head around the enormity of knowledge that I now had access to. I remember checking out copies of The Best of Barfly by Butch Dalisay, and if I recall correctly The Vintage Mencken by H.L. Mencken; I also remember sitting down during one free period between classes to read Soul of a New Machine as I had vaguely heard about it then, and the blurb at the back caught my eye. Months later, I had happily found and purchsed a copy at the used bookstore across the campus for my own collection of books.
Which brings me to my thought today: there’s a book exchange at the lobby of my apartment building, and I was wondering whether I could spare one of my books to the endeavour. They mention that the books have to be literary in nature, and I have a few in my collection now that should suffice; maybe I could leave my copy of Barfly there, or Rizal Without the Overcoat? I mean, who knows – someone may find it interesting enough.
I’ve also been thinking of signing up for a library card at the local library and community center. I mean, I do like purchasing books for my own collection, but there have been things I’ve been curious about, that the local library might have answers to, such as local history.
That should occupy my time this summer.