open the pages, read the words, savor the magic

Sunday Survey: Introduction to Reading

Intro: What is the Sunday Survey?

I’ve explained all about Sunday Survey in my first ever Sunday Survey report. Click here to read the complete explanation. Basically it’s a book discussion I conduct on my Twitter account, @GeekInc18, that starts off with a basic book-related (or not so related) question such as “What’s your favorite book?” or “What do you think of book translations?” The result of our discussion goes up here to Bookerie.

SUNDAY SURVEY, 15 April 2012: Tell Me All About Your First Reading Experience!

Every book lover and avid reader must have an entryway into the wonderful world of reading. This is a story that I particularly care about because it is said that in Indonesia, unlike in other countries, we have no so called “reading culture”. The average Indonesian probably didn’t have parents who started reading stories to them, or give them book sets and/or encyclopedias as birthday presents. The average Indonesian school, as far as I know, don’t give out reading assignments until students are in high school. I don’t know the exact statistics so regrettably I can’t elaborate. But in my own experience, getting people to be interested in books and start reading seriously requires a massive effort.

I’ve already expounded on my reading history in my About page so I won’t bore you with the details. I started reading at a very young age because my parents, especially my mother, had a reading hobby and she inspired me and my sister to develop reading as a hobby as well. (In fact, my mom is quite awesome in her reading that she actually discovered Harry Potter before I did. I was more of a classic literature reader before she came to me with The Philosopher’s Stone and said, “You should read this. It’s a very controversial book but also very popular. You’re going to love it.” She was, of course, right.)

But my family is not the average Indonesian family. I can safely say this because my parents had both lived abroad and received education in foreign countries, so they were very aware of the importance of reading. I didn’t realize how differently I was raised until I was in high school and became that geek who sat alone in the library during breaks while other kids had fun eating and hanging out together. I was often asked in those days, “Why do you read so much?” When I answered, “Because I love it,” classmates usually gave me a weird look. I already went to one of the most expensive private schools in the city, one whose library occupies a singular building and not attached to classrooms, and I was still the only one making full use of the facility. This struck me as odd but now I realized that my friends didn’t read because they probably weren’t ready for books and weren’t conditioned to read books in the way they were conditioned to, for example, play sports and go to malls on their  free time.

As a result, it always interests me to know when, where and why exactly a person started to read a book and realize that, “Oh, this is cool! I could just be a book lover forever.”

I’ve bought so many books in my life that I can’t remember what was the first book I bought on my own. But I remember the first time I read a book that I chose on my own and decided that I was going to never stop reading books. EVER. It was back in 1998 or 1999, in the library of my school, that I read a book called Bread and Wine by Ignazio Silone, an anti-fascism story by a writer who was exiled by Benito Mussolini, first published in 1936. (More info in Wikipedia.)

It wasn’t a particularly comfortable story to read, especially for a high schooler whose head was firmly planted in the clouds, but it was probably the book that changed my life. It was the first time I had read a book that was so profound, so challenging and so different from the ‘tame’ classics I’ve been reading all along. For the first time since I’ve known books and collected them that I promised myself to keep finding new, interesting stories to read.

Like all readers, I have my favorite kind of stories. I love escapist books like Harry Potter and the other wonderful, magical tales of otherworldly places full of adventures. I also love going back to the past and learning about mythologies, social reforms and the birth of technology. But as a reader, I also like to be challenged. I want to find books that stimulate me mentally. I want to read not just for the sake of reading, but also to learn and understand about other people’s habits, customs and cultures. Even though I had been reading for a long time, that book – and I wonder whether it still exists in my old school library – was the one that turned me into a serious reader.

After Silone’s book, the rest is history. He may not be the most prominent writers in the world (I went to a bookstore in Italy once and asked whether they carried the book, Pane e vino (the original Italian title), and I was told it was out of print) but I must thank him for making him a serious reader out of me. Grazie, signor Sileno, per l’esperienza indimenticabile.

Survey Results

As usual, I asked my friends to share their first reading experiences with me. I hope my friends’ stories could inspire other Indonesians to embrace reading as a hobby and make it their life’s passion, just as we have all spent almost all of our lives to loving stories and books.


My earliest reading memory: I picked up my dad’s Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and fell in love. I was in Elementary School :p

I was sneaky about it because I thought my father would mad or something haha but he found out and just said “Isn’t it good?”

My mom urged me to read Harry Potter and Narnia, then she bought me the whole series and refused to fuel my obsession any further

because it was getting more and more expensive lol :p so I started collecting money from my lunch money

I do admire parents like hers who let their kids read whatever books strike their fancy. I don’t mean to say that it’s okay for teenagers to read sex books or anything like that, but Angels and Demons is a good book even for young readers. Young readers should be allowed to discover difficult books and their parents and/or guardians should support them by having explanations ready for when their children have questions about the book they’re reading.


Getting there by the story. Who taught? Myself only. First novel I’ve read was Bag of Bones by Stephen King.

I spend much time homey and alone when I was a kid, and think there’s nothing more to do so I try to buy a comic.

Comic is a fun way to enjoy a story and I liked it, but I wanna try some adult and elegant reading so I start to read a novel.

I picked King because he’s so thrilling! Enjoy much when read his story.

I also agree that comic books are a great way for people to start reading. Some comic books are obviously more difficult to digest than others but things like manga and superhero comics are fun ways to get used to of reading.


none. I started like reading when I was a kid but I read magazines like bobo, ami at that time.

and then I read comics because of my friends in the elementary school and novel because of Sherlock Holmes.

I forgot I started to read novel when I also in elementary. It was Lima Sekawan by Enid Blyton =D

For international readers who happen to stumble upon this blog, Bobo is a children’s magazine filled with short stories (series or standalone) and comic strips and also educational information. I think it’s still around these days, but back when I was in elementary school, it was one of a kind. As I discussed with @angelikurniawan, this magazine helped me understand Indonesian language grammar better. I was raised bilingually – I joined English courses to improve my English but it was Bobo that taught me how to read and speak better Indonesian.


My dad taught me to read every night before bed. I was 3. Later, parents bought me comic books and encyclopedia for kids.

I read Bobo magz, started to ask for more comic books, and GOOSEBUMPS. Those are the ones that made me in love with reading.

@RL_Stine was my first hero, my first writing influence. I used to think that Goosebumps series are the coolest thing!

The Goosebumps series was too scary for me, so I went with Girl Talk instead. But this series is a legend – even my friends who didn’t like to read had no qualms in picking up the Goosebump books in the library whenever we had an assignment there (of course they were supposed to be studying, but apparently Goosebumps triumph over simple math homework.)


#SundaySurvey since last year,my 1st is Hush Hush, my mom taught me to. before I was only into magazines & comic books

since primary school..6 grade/kls 6 SD?,hahahaha. That time I love reading short stories in local magazine,but never thick novel thing

Again, magazines and comic books are great way to make people start reading. If kids are conditioned to start reading at an early age, no matter how late in life they start picking up novels, they’ll already be ready for that reading.


my daddy. He read a lot of stories before I went to bed,& read a lot of stories from the Bible too. Now here I am.

a short comic strip of Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck in Bahasa, from my sister’s Donald Duck comic book :)

I was 4 to 5 y.o. I only read my sister’s comic books, but then the first book that I bought was Sailor Moon comic book LOL.

Ah, siblings! They could be good reading influence as well. Unfortunately, I’m the oldest child in the family and I’m not close to my older cousins. So it was up to me to influence my younger sister and cousins to read. Happily, I should say, my sister is a reader in her own right and I have a younger cousin, whose part of her childhood is spent hanging out with me, who now reads even crazier stuff than I have.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in first grade of Elementary School

This confirms it: say whatever you want about the Harry Potter series. The way it prompts people to read, at whatever age, is why the book is VERY IMPORTANT.


My dad, stocked his children with stacks of comics, such as Woody Woodpecker & others, EPPO mgz. Stories in EPPO stuck in my mind

I remember comics like Storm, Roel Djikstra, Johnny Goodbye even when I don’t remember the stories. I guess it’s also influence… fondness of soccer (from Roel Djikstra), fantasy-hero story (from Storm), detective-like ones (from Johnny Goodbye). :D

First of all, EPPO! What an ‘old-school’ title. It’s originally Dutch, from the Netherlands, and I’ve only ever heard of it from my older cousins talking about it. I’ve never seen it physically as I never found it in any used bookshop… unfortunately, D doesn’t have her old copies either so it remains an elusive thing of the past that I must hunt down.

Secondly, D’s story about how her early reading influences her other hobbies now is highly relatable. Reading dictionaries when I was young has inspired me to study languages, particularly Italian, and it was thanks to this that I started following calcio, or Italian football. (My favorite team is AC Milan.) My being a film buff can also be attributed to books: I had a teacher in Italy who was a movie critic and she gave us an assignment to read Novecento by Alessandro Baricco. It was made into a movie by Giuseppe Tornatore called La Leggenda  del pianista sull’oceano. This book and this movie brought me particularly close to that teacher, who in turn taught me a lot about movies until I can now review movies for a living. ;)


Who taught me to start reading was my father.Since I was a kid when he went home from work,he brought me many books of AnimalLife

I was about 3 yro,I <3 looking at many colorful pics in my books and my father wud read for me. LolaKoala was one of my 1st books

Seems like my father ‘forced’ me to read a lot. But now then, as I grow old, I’m very grateful for that.

Parents who ‘force’ their kids to read? They have the right idea. (Although, seriously, if your kids don’t enjoy it, don’t make them do it.)


quarter of century life filled with books. Earliest memory would be a book about panda with fur on its body. Read and feel indeed

Koalas and pandas! @inararirurero and @rumfrost know their books from animals… I don’t think I ever got books about animals when I was a kid. Although I do remember that one of my sister’s books is about a cat. It’s called Onil Si Kucing Melit (Curious Little Cat) by Linda Hayward. We both loved that book… and now we’ve both become cat lovers!


I think it was my grandma. She used to buy me a lot of encyclopedia and those science or history books. (I was a little geek!)

But also, there were those magazines, like Bobo & Donal Bebek. Got into novels during my pre-teen years instead.

I guess it was Roald Dahl’s novels, especially “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” :)

This story contains SO MUCH WIN on so many levels. I know Nico in real life and he is one highly well-read and knowledgeable young gentleman. Now I know who is responsible for that: his grandmother.

(Speaking of, today my grandmother launched her second book. Seriously. Grandmas rock.)


my very first would b my fam, hv few older siblings that my 1st read probably bobo mag&library day every week at school does help

and also those second/used books that my parents bought such as asterix&obelix series..donald duck comics,n later, manga…

Looks enid blyton’s also my first novel to read, LOL.. Oh and also the STOP series! :)

Another library dweller. I think people who actually use libraries are very rare today. But I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today without the existence of a library. It’s so nice to know that another person is appreciative of this old thing called libraries. Obviously, reading anywhere and anytime is great, but there’s just something about the library…

Jakarta needs a decent library. We have absolutely none right now for the public. This is pathetic. I wish someone would do something about it.


I’m 16, I was 3 when my mother introduce me to reading. First there was Bobo, then Lima Sekawan, then Judy Blume #SundaySurvey

@ndarow is the most well-read young reader I know in my acquaintance right now. If you recall from the previous surveys, she’s the one who reads anything and everything. Her mom must be very proud of her!

(Also, if you noticed a pattern, Enid Blyton remains relevant and influential until now. When I was 10, I was really into Enid Blyton’s Famous Five [that’s Lima Sekawan]. Ndari is 13 years younger than I am and she still read Famous Five. Blyton never dies.)

I also asked my friends whether they still remember the first book they bought with their own money

@dtorini First comics: DC comics of Superman. First book: Lima Sekawan. My sister & I shared same reading taste back then so we split cost

@angelikurniawan it’s comic I guess. Kyo Samurai Deeper. Bought it with my pocket money. Refrained myself not to buy lunch at school.

@Astrapios yes It was the first volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, it’s now sitting in the back of my book shelf. Thankfully still in one piece

@inararirurero Enid Blyton’s Musim Panas di St.Clare. :)

@milazuliana Huh. I think it was last year, actually. A Game of Thrones. I’m a spoilt brat, really. :p

@ndarow the 1st book I bought w my own money? “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” by J Blume :’) I wish I still had it #SundaySurvey

I applaud them for still remember. If only I could remember what it was I first bought with my own money. It’s probably an Enid Blyton book, though. Or maybe a volume in the Candy, Candy manga.

Finally, I asked my friends if they had anything to say to the people responsible for getting them to start reading. And these tweets are so touching that – I’m not going to lie – I teared up a bit.

@dtorini “How could you, Dad!?” Nah,kidding. I’m thankful the reading habit I have now allow me to go on any adventures I wish to read. :P

@milazuliana Easy: THANK YOU. I remember ‘i-ni i-bu bu-di’ in my dad’s voice, and Widya Wiyata from my parents. I had a nice childhood. :’)

@rumfrost “thank you” would not be big enough words to convey my gratitude to my parents for making me such an avid reader.

@Astrapios I’d say “Thank you and I promise I would make something out of this in the future, for now I’ll just sit here and read” :p

@inararirurero “I Love You.”

@ndarow “It’s bcs of you that now I’m not a normal teenager!” LOL, what shd I say? A simple “thank you” isnt enough. Books saved my life.

@9perris maybe ‘thank you’ wouldn’t b enough,but really grateful indeed..^^ I wonder if my mum regret it cos it makes d house messy LOL

@kepikbadut I need to thank you dad, for get angry with me when I don’t like to read books with many letters. Now, I just can’t stop it :D

That wraps up this week’s Sunday Survey session. Tune in for the next one.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: