Today is Friday 10th November 2017. On Monday, I start my pupillage at the Bar.
Thus begins an exciting new chapter as a practising barrister, with many new priorities and constraints upon my time. But with this comes a sacrifice: an end to my days as an avid enjoyer of books (for the foreseeable future, at least).
I’ve been a reader since the age of eight. Growing up in hospital, I developed fads to cope with the boredom, and would read in concert with those fads. For instance, after the Ghostbusters movie had blown my mind, my dad subscribed me to the Ghostbusters comic — so tales of ghastly ghouls became the highlight of my week.
Likewise, after Batman thrilled me on the big screen, I pursued his crime-fighting adventures in ink. And when real-life war stories captured my imagination, escapism came in the comic book Commando.
My love of comics lasted well into adulthood. Even now, in keeping with the justice theme, I remain a fan of Judge Dredd! One Dredd story in particular, Letter from a Democrat, had a profound effect on me as a boy.
I began to read books regularly in October 2008. I went to Ghana, West Africa, where I worked for three months as a volunteer in a human rights centre. Before travelling, I was advised to pack batteries, a torch and some books, as frequent power-cuts could be expected.
I’m not the world’s fastest reader, but during my time in Ghana, I read seven books. Then, on returning to Britain, I visited the Waterstones store and was surprised at the stack of books I suddenly wanted (no, needed) to read. It was as though Ghana had opened a floodgate in my mind. I had so many questions!
- What is communism, and who was Karl Marx?
- What is democracy, and is there more to it than voting?
- How do politicians (good and bad) get people to vote for them?
- Where do peoples’ rights come from?
- Why do blatant miscarriages of justice occur?
- Could society exist without law?
- Why is it often heard that “Big Brother” is watching us?
- What is meant by “Kafkaesque?”
It took time, but in books, I found answers to all such questions. And I set myself a target: to read 100 books by the time I became a barrister. Well, I start work as a barrister on Monday, and I’ve read 218 books (cover to cover) since Ghana — more than doubling my intended target.
To view the list of books I’ve read, Click Here.
There are still so many titles I wish to explore, and no doubt, I will. But for the next few years, I may need to fall back on comics whenever the chance to read presents itself. Or perhaps I’ll revisit some titles already explored, seeking precious pearls I may have missed the first time round.
Reading demands an effort which I’m proud to have made. If the books furnishing our rooms tell the story of our lives, I hope some epic books are yet to fill my future shelves!