Having moved to the village 15 years ago, 62-year-old Afife Küçükbenli stays busy leading a life in touch with nature while at the same time continuing to pursue her childhood love of reading.
Residing on Seki Mountain in one of the rural neighborhoods of Kayseri province's Yahyalı district, Küçükbenli didn't have the chance to continue her education as she had to help her mother at home and in the village. She satisfied her need and love for reading books with her siblings' books as it was difficult to get books in the village while she was growing up. She married a sergeant and moved to the city. This marriage opened doors for her in accessing more reading supplies and books.
Küçükbenli expanded her horizons as her children enrolled in university. She started with the leading classics of Turkish literature. Then, Russian, German and French literature, and she added many foreign masterpieces to her reading adventures - which had initially started with children's literature.
Tired of city life, the Küçükbenli couple decided to move to their hometown after their children left home for university. Fifteen years ago, they began a new life in the village with three goats and ten sheep. In addition to the flock, they stay busy with keeping animals such as cows, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs and bees. While busy with such village work, Küçükbenli can now spend more time with her books.
'Books changed my perspective'
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) on her love for books Afife Küçükbenli stated that books serve both as a perfect friend and guide for her.
Noting that reading a book is the easiest way to develop oneself and change one's perception of the world, Küçükbenli said, "For example, I loved reading books by Sabahattin Ali so much. I could read just two books by him, "Kuyucaklı Yusuf" ("Yusuf from Kuyucak") and "Kürk Mantolu Madonna" ("Madonna in a Fur Coat"). These two books changed my perspective on the world. I gave up approaching people with bias. Books changed my perception also on nature, and people and even on myself. They help me to develop empathy for my husband, my children and people around me. It is reading that taught me sustaining good relations with my neighbors and loving myself. I think that this habit fed me so much. What's more, it stops you against getting bad habits."
Tired of city life, Afife Küçükbenli and her husband decided to move to their hometown village 15 years ago.
Küçükbenli said that she is in need of friends with whom she can talk on and analyze the books she reads. "I really need a friend who reads the books I read so that we could converse on the work. However, this is not that possible as people hardly ever read. Thus, I call my children to discuss the books I read. Exactly like when you want to share something you love, you want to discuss the book you love with someone. I read a book by Jack London. It was about an absolute beginner who develops himself. I was totally caught by the book, however, the last part was a bit disappointing as it ended up badly. The character shouldn't have committed suicide, I think. I completed the book in the highlands. I looked for someone to discuss the book with, however, I couldn't find anyone around. What's more, there was no service around the highland we reside on. Thus, I climbed to a neighboring hill to be able to get a phone signal and called my daughter." Expressing her happiness about a village life as compared to urban life, Küçükbenli noted that she has more time to spend on books in the village.
'Reading is my lifestyle'
"I have three aims and I live to be able to realize them. My first aim, I couldn't get the chance to finish my education, was to offer my children quality education and help them be educated and qualified individuals. Two of them became engineers, they both work for big companies in high positions. My daughter works as an academic at a university in Italy. My second aim is to produce something, which I realized after settling down in the village. The third one is to read as much as I my eyes and my brain permit. Reading is my lifestyle."
Küçükbenli drew attention to the issue that family plays an important role in getting children to adopt a reading habit and added, "As a nation, we need to adopt the reading habit. We can make our children read by standing as an example before them. For example, every family should assign reading time, at least once a week. Women get busy with ironing or cleaning for hours. They can spend time on reading as well if they wish. Such that, they may delay household work, but they mustn't delay reading, as parents stand as role models for their children. With such consciousness, we have to stand as good examples before our children."
As a bibliophile, Afife Küçükbenli fits many corners of her house with books so that the guests can read and also gives people books as gift on their birthdays.