Recently, I became the book supplier for my father. Choosing books for someone else is a powerful position, and I take it seriously and feel responsible.
Everything all started a couple of years ago. Before my parents got retired, they didn't have time to read. I remember them coming home, preparing and having dinner, and after a short time of watching the news, my father was going to sleep in front of the TV. Being woken up at 5:30 and working as a mechanic all day, he was, rightfully, getting tired.
On the other hand, my mother had more energy as she was partially sitting during the day. She was a tailor in the army.
After many years in the same positions, right before their retirement, they bought a summer house. I feel that moment was all made the difference regarding books.
The house is nothing fancy; it is adjacent to two other houses and has three small bedrooms and one living room combined with a kitchen. When you go out to the verandah, you hear the neighbors' breath, and they also listen to yours. My parents don't like this, but that's the house they could afford.
With the house and retirement, my father started looking for hobbies, most probably for the first time in his life. He had been working since he was eight. Therefore, he didn't have a chance or time for hobbies.
He was always a fan of books and education, and he admired people who read. Being a high-school graduate, he always told me the importance of university, higher education, and reading. The last one made him always feel regret. He wanted and even tried to start reading before. Whenever he took a book at hand during the only time he had -after dinner- he fell asleep. Physically working all day, he stayed in shape and young, but his mind was feeling old.
He still regrets a few things in his dearer mind: not getting higher education, not having a reading habit, and not learning a second language. Possibly with him supporting and nudging me, I got all three checked. I sometimes wonder whether we are living to fulfill our parents' dreams.
After his retirement, he picked up a book from my bookshelf at home to scratch one regret. I don't remember how he chose the first book; maybe my mother recommended it. But in two years, he read every novel at home. At that time, I guess we had more than eighty novels. In addition to that, he also borrowed many books from my uncle, the bookworm of the extended family.
After finishing all the fiction books we had, he asked me to buy Turkish classics such as the Ince Memed series, which have thousands of pages. Once he finished the classics, he asked me again what to read. And my journey to find books for him started.
Choosing books for him is something I want to do. Books shape people's minds, and affecting someone's imagination is a transcendent power, which I take it seriously.
While not being a great fiction reader, I struggle to find stories that he'll like. What imagination can I plant in his head? As he has his own life experience and views, how can I choose the best? Is there a best?
There are many questions every time I ask myself when I go to the store. I know what kind of books he liked until now, but that alone isn't enough.
Buying books for him is entirely different than buying for myself. When I'm buying for myself, I feel how I like the book, and I don't have that sense when I'm looking for books for my father.
The problem is that I recommend books that I haven't read, and that's why it's like an experiment. Every time he reads the book I bought, I ask him how it was and keep a record in my mind to have a reference for the next one. But still, I haven't detected the perfect style for him, nor has he.
We're still discovering together what he likes and doesn't, and I like having this routine with him. As we live in different countries, I don't see him in person a lot, and I feel this is the least I can do for everything he has done for me.