Writing about Reading
Writing about reading is somewhat like dancing about architecture, but anyone who’s met me knows about my thing for books. And since this blog is about things that matter to me… well here goes. Read on.
Since the age of 8 I’ve continuously had my head stuck in at least 1, 2.. 5 books. I spent my summers reading the entire village library (including Lace, wooo.. fruity) and as a adult, one of the biggest achievements of my life is that I can finally afford to buy all the books I want. Growing up I read under the covers, I read lying on my single bed as the rain hammered down all summer, and no camping trip was complete without at least 3 overdue library books returned slightly damp and musty smelling. Today my bedside table is littered with books, New Yorkers and pairs of glasses because I read before I go to bed. In fact, I read all day. I read as I crunch my breakfast toast, I read in the bath, on the bus, on my sofa with my dog, when I’m camping or getting tattoo’d, on the treadmill at the gym and once they invent a way for me to read and drive (safely), I’ll probably do that too. I listen to books being read to me (Audible… when you don’t feel like reading) and yes, I’ve even read through my annual exam. I’ve not yet read during sex, but hey, give it time.
I read anything and everything. From the cereal box to David Foster Wallace (more similarities than you’d think). Biographies inspire me (I would hate mine to be boring so each one prompts me to get off the sofa), mysteries indulge my need to solve problems (and remind me why I didn’t become a cop) and fiction.. well fiction is my crack.
Fiction can be a time machine. A portals to other places, allowing me to symbiotically read other people’s minds and experience things I can’t even envision. I can be the girl locked in a room for her entire life (Emma Donoghue), the middle school kid with the facial deformity (‘Wonder‘) or even the mentally challenged kid who’s trying to solve a dog murder (Mark Haddon).
Through books I’ve traveled the world by train and kayak (thank you Paul Theroux, you crotchety bastard), visited the breadth of India from the slums (‘Shantaram‘) to the upper classes (Salman Rushdie), experienced the complexities of kite flying in Afghanistan (Khaled Hosseini) and even tiptoed through Chinese dynasties (Jung Chang).
I’ve discovered secret societies where true feelings must be hidden (Suzanne Young), or books must be burnt (Ray Bradbury). Where medical school is free (but you do pay) (F Paul Wilson) or secret campus societies that murder hostages (Stephen White). I’ve met self harmers with totally creepy moms (Gillian Flynn), and don’t get me started on ‘Gone Girl’. Lets just say ‘don’t trust your spouse’. I actually hugged the book at one point and squealed with delight at the wicked twist in the middle.
But of course I can’t skip over my trash reads. Due to my crackish consumption of trashy romances, I’ve had about eleventy million boyfriends, I’ve found true love thousands of times and I’ve probably received at least a hundred proposals or so. To do so I’ve lost weight, overcome my fiscal irresponsibility, joined AA, I’ve written a diary, left my husband, and even shared a cellphone with a stranger. Romantic fiction is beyond formulaic, must be British (if I’m escaping, I’m escaping back to my roots), and – spoiler alert- the girl always gets the good guy.
But its my crack; I’m embarrassed about my consumption but I can’t help myself. My trash is my panacea for all ills – PMS, bad day at work, snow storms, breakups and even an excuse to climb into bed at 7pm. Nothing is better than a new trashy read from an author you trust, freshly laundered sheets and hours before you actually need to go to sleep. Nothing.
Yes I know. I have a problem.
Except if this is my addiction, I think its a pretty harmless one. Its just a little inconvenient and over the years I probably could have bought myself a Porsche… or two. Plus on my dating profile, its really not very sexy to include ‘reading’ as a hobby. I can imagine the crocheted blankets and cats of that person. And I’m a dog person anyway.
At one point I was packing 40 boxes of books everytime I moved house and I had one mover refuse to take the job after experiencing the ‘basement climb’ with my 1000+ book collection the previous year. Apparently his back couldn’t take it twice in one lifetime.
But with the advent of the Kindle, I sucked it up, cried a bit and sold off my books for a $1 each. I kept about 200 – because I reread books constantly – but I sometimes wish I had kept more. There’s nothing like standing in front of your shelves and picking out an old friend to accompany you for a long lazy afternoon or a cold snowy night. Searching my Kindle archives isn’t quite the same.
And there’s the Kindle ‘death’ issue. Amazon has actually asked me to be a tester as I keep murdering a Kindle each year due to overuse. Apparently the battery isn’t made for us heavy readers and they have a tendency to pack up as I approach the 11 month mark. There are actually quite a few of us who have this problem… the over read. And no, we’re not some fancy group of professors… we’re people in need of escapism. Of adventure. Of worlds that don’t exist or decisions that we’d never make. We need romance and love, family and friendship. We want the world to be better, different, stranger or even done (thank you Cormac).But most of all.. we need our friggen Kindles to stay charged a little longer so we can read that Elizabeth Strout we just downloaded.