I can talk a blue streak about books. For goodness sakes, I owned a bookstore – I spent my entire days talking about books, encouraging people to buy books. All the while, I had a dirty little secret. I wasn’t reading. Yes, I would make sure the book club book was read in time for a gathering, I would check in on the latest book news that my Google alerts would send me. I would check out what others were saying and reading on social media, but I wasn’t sitting down, book in hand, reading.
I’ve always been around books. My grandmother and mother were and are voracious readers. I always joke about the fact that my Nan wore out two libraries. She often came home with books she had already read and had forgotten about – because of the number of books she went through, and/or because the publisher had issued a new version with a different cover. After carting two large totes of books home, she would sit down go through her picks, read a page or two and then often put the book back down and say, “read it”, “read it”, “read it”. When I was small, I used to walk around with a book behind my back and my family would scatter in all directions because they knew it was my Golden Book Snow White that I was bringing to them for the 100th time to have them read to me.
I love books. I have books all around me at home; I always end up in the book section of a store and spend a great deal of time going through bookish websites and newsfeeds. I love sharing whimsical thoughts, ideas and posts about books on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (I am still learning how to navigate Instagram, Tumblr and Reddit – but give me time), and encouraging other people to pick up books, but reading?! That’s an altogether different thing.
I recently found myself with a little extra time and I decided to force myself to read a book. It wasn’t necessarily a book I ‘had claimed to’ be dying to read or that had been recommended to me, or even a book I had started and stopped and decided to finally try to finish. I looked at my bookshelf and thought, sure, that one, why not? So I sat down and I read, and I got uncomfortable. So I put the book down and went and did a few things that I had to do and then came back. And when I felt uncomfortable again, I put the book down and watched a little television, and made myself something to eat. But I came back and I picked the book up again. Little by little I found myself relaxing and enjoying the story, and wanting to read the book and slowly I found myself wanting to put other things aside to read the book – which was when my guilt would set in. There were other things that I should be doing, responsibilities I needed to focus on. This was irresponsible of me to be reading – for fun. I hadn’t felt this way in a very long time and frankly it is hard (in a crazy paced world) to just sit and be still and let your mind do all the work, but I did. And I LOVED the book. Ah, I loved the book. And when I was finished I put it down, I couldn’t wait to pick up another.
So I went back to my bookshelf and picked up another book. And I had the same struggles, but the stops and starts were fewer and farther between. And when my eyes would get tired, I would close my eyes and relax – and then suddenly wake up ready to read again. Other things started to happen – the television would stay off more often, and I found myself trying to find ways to eat while reading. Suddenly, all I wanted to do was read. And now I’m on my fifth book and I am even more excited about reading this book than the last. I feel like I am carrying around a treasure.
It’s okay to go through little phases where you just don’t want to read, find it challenging to read, or don’t LIKE reading. Maybe it’s a bit like a relationship – sometimes you just need a little time apart to realize how much you really love the one you are with. I thought about comparing reading to exercising but I haven’t exercised in a long while either, so one thing at a time.And I have fallen in love with reading again and I am going to enjoy every page I turn.
Of course I haven’t curbed my addiction to bookish things and I still think books are beautiful to look at and to own. But like most beautiful things, I’ve remembered it’s what’s inside that counts.
Here are some interesting links about how reading is changing…