We would had to earn our way through a mix of savings from pocket money to achieving a certain set of grades in order to purchase luxury items such as a walkman, mp3 player, etc. but we were never denied the books we coveted. Unfortunately, I was more of an active than smart kid who preferred to get my hands dirty at the local playground rather than being holed up somewhere reading a book, thus comparatively to my siblings, I didn't take much advantage of this offer until I started to develop my reading habit in secondary school.
I remember being recommended James Patterson by a kind auntie from Sunny Bookshop in Far East Plaza (wonder if that place is still around) and I started reading about Alex Cross even before it was turned into a movie. Trust me, the books are way better than the movies. I began to realise how great books for an imaginative mind. The authors did well to transport me to another realm, and there were many a good time I had with these fictional characters and plots.
As I moved up to junior college, I started to explore the non-fictional genre and discovered the interesting realm of self-help, personal finance, investments and autobiographies. I would say I've been through quite a thick stack of self-help books, but I find that the one which really stood out to me, with its time tested principles, is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. We were put through a course on that back in school and I would say that was my first introduction to personal development books. To be honest, despite having the opportunity to read that once through in secondary school, I only did really catch on with the principles in University, having messed around in my secondary school and junior college days.
And I guess that's the beauty of books. They provide different perspectives at different times of your life when you re-read them. Especially the books on personal development and investments, such as "From Darwin to Munger" by Peter Bevelin - that book is one I try to go through briefly every 9 months or so. Or those books on philosophy such as "This Ugly Civilization", "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World" or "The Selfish Gene" - they do provide interesting perspectives you probably would not be able to glean if you went about on your merry way through life without every adopting reading as a priority activity. As you can see, I'm a firm believer in investing in yourself through reading. A mind once expanded never goes back to its original shape and size.
I have to say that the best thing about this decade is the development of technology to accommodate active readers. Prior to the invention of Amazon's Kindle, my house was pretty much stuffed up with hordes of books I had to kinda think twice before I bought anymore. Well it still is filled up with books now, but I haven't had to think twice about storing more books (electronic copies), no thanks to this nifty device. Mind you, my Kindle was one of the earlier versions of the Kindle Touch, and I purchased in in 2011. To date, that has been my best "luxury" purchase over the last four years, thanks for the sheer pleasure and adventures I had through it.
These days I try to put in some reading on the train trips to and fro from the office, which can take up to an hour each day. Most days I do non-fiction and some days I'll load up some trashy novels to ease off the knowledge expansion project. ha ha! How about you dear reader? If you're reading this piece right now, chances are you'll like reading too. What are some of the best books you've come across that have impacted your lives? And how much heed do you pay to reading?