I was always encouraged to read at home. My mom read a lot growing up and she passed on her love of reading to me. I loved school and learning and doing my homework! I am such a geek! But a cool geek though.. I learned how to read Russian from my mom in order to read on my own the Russian collection we had at home.
I started to get more interested in reading in middle school and visited the tiny library there from time to time. Mostly I wanted to practice my English, I remember choosing the classics in English for beginners. In high school our small library had a little collection of art books that caught my attention. I was studying graphic design at the time and that department contained a collection of old album series of the greatest artists, It was an old edition from 1964. I was fascinated with that series of albums! I would visit our Public Library and go through the art books and at that time my friend got me reading the Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy. Go Raist! It’s the only Fantasy I’ve ever read. All this time I wasn’t the most eager reader, I didn’t read a lot. Also, I didn’t have a substantial variety to be inspired from. Living in a small town I only had one small Public library and practically no book stores (the horror!). In the late 90’s, I still had no idea what internet was. But I knew I liked books, and that one day I’ll be able to afford the ones that I wanted most.
Later on, at the age of 18 I joined the army and didn’t have time for reading at all, but precisely then I started to collect. I was getting an allowance and I was traveling more around the country. Many times I got to visit Tel-Aviv. Tel- Aviv was like another planet on its own. Everywhere there were old, secondhand book stores. It was affordable, there was variety, it was exciting like finding a priceless treasure
On holidays we used to get these coupons and guess what I used to buy?…. The biggest treasure I got from the coupons was “Fantasy Workshop” by Boris Vallejo and Jullie Bell. I purchased it in another town of course. Still can’t believe my luck, cus it’s a process book, with sketches and everything. It was soooo expensive.
After the army and after working for another year I quit and began my studies in Graphic Design. Finally, I was exposed to a two story heaven on earth, the college library! Although it’s also small for a college library, nevertheless I got my inspiration at last. The first year was tough and left me no time to explore, but on the second year I’ve already examined what the library had to offer as far as my interests went. By the third year I was using books as a reference and idea generating tool for my projects. Also at that time I got to some more serious reading. Every chance I got, I would go to the library.
The college library literary changed my life. It contained something extremely special in it, a vast collection of a true bibliomaniac. That man was crazy about books! Everything worth reading, discovering, knowing, was of his inheritance. Most of the books in fact. A whole universe in one man’s private collection. His name was Moses Sar’el, he was a Sociology professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He bought the books in different old book stores across Jerusalem, throughout many years. Those book stores don’t exist anymore. When he died, in the early 90’s (his newest book I found was from 1993), his widow donated the collection to our college and thus freed the whole apartment that was blocked with books, even the bathroom! He’s one of the most influential non-existing people in my life. During my exploration in the library over 2 years, it felt like I was getting to know him, and I could even tell by the cover if that was Sar’el’s book. Most of his interests were dear to me as they were to him: art, especially the Italian Renaissance, ancient history and cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome, ancient and classical literature and poetry, dictionaries, ancient maps and more. The widest book I’ve ever seen in person was Sar’el’s “The New Century Dictionary of the English Language”, about 6” wide. Many copies of my collection today are the ones that I encountered and fell in love with in Sarel’s collection. Thanks to him I discovered so many new worlds and started to develop my own little Bibliophillia. The amazing Time life series of “The Great Ages of Man” was revealed to me in all its glory, Ernst Gombrich’s “The Story of Art”, Jacob Burckhardt’s “The Civilization of the Renaissance”, Dante’s “Divine Comedy” with Duré’s illustrations and many many more.
After graduating college, very luckily I found work pretty soon, and about a year I was extremely busy learning the craft of dissecting graphics in the real world for print. I still could take books from the college library for the next two years, and I did.
About 3 years ago I’ve experienced a new twist of events by discovering a popular Israeli site of book blogging, much like Goodreads and such, only here I could also purchase secondhand books from all over the country pretty easily. Need I say more? And the binging began…..