What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?

“Archeologist”, that was my answer. Quite an interesting question posted on a book club I’m part of. It got our book-wormy brains thinking, and from a bookish angle, of course.

I was born in 1982, and there were already piles and piles of magazines in our home library, waiting for me. Among them were National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, and Reader’s Digest. There were others but I don’t remember their names. Then there’s the Encyclopædia Britannica set, plus other medical and cook books published by Reader’s Digest. There were Stephen King novels, and hundreds of others which did not catch my eye at all.

Back to those magazines. These subscriptions date back to the 1970s, and some possibly the 1960s. I don’t remember asking my dad about this, but I wonder if my grandpa loved to read too, since my grandma’s one of the biggest bookworms I’d ever known. If she’s not in the kitchen, the garden, or at her usual hair and nail salon, she’s on her couch with a book. No where else.

According to my mom (I miss her), it was my dad who subscribed to all those magazines. I’ll have to ask him this weekday when I see him! Because by the time I was old enough to read them, I noticed that new issues were no longer mailed to our house. One by one, they all disappeared. I remember asking my mom if I could add a couple of those magazines into the shopping cart while we shopped at a local supermarket, alongside copies of Archie & Friends and Beano. She never said no. 

Out of those magazines, it’s not that hard to guess that my “dream job” derived from National Geographic. Thanks to NatGeo, I was exposed to stories from all around the world. Culture, history, the AIDS epidemic, civil and ethnic wars. It was these magazines which taught me how to read, not Enid Blyton nor children storybooks (my grandma told me all those stories – bedtime – though I did have a Reader’s Digest hardcover of all the Grimm’s fairytales!). How is it possible to appreciate those pictures without understanding the context, and what better way to understand the context than to read the captions?

Another thing. Since coming of age… I read, exclusively, non-fiction. I would take a side glance at fiction only if it were written by authors I’m familiar with, such as “Orphanage 41” by Victor Malarek, a Canadian journalist who wrote “The Natashas”, my first read on human trafficking. Otherwise, I’m a 99.98% non-fiction (memoirs, current affairs etc.) aficionado. I believe this has a lot to do with my early childhood exposure to news magazines!

I will write about my struggles with books like Enid Blyton and The Hardy Boys, and other classics such as The Black Beauty and Around The World In 80 Days next time. 

For now, this is why I wanted to become an archeologist.  

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