Friday, July 19, 2013


The Library, by Lori Nix
I used to be a reader. And I'm ashamed now to say that I'm not any longer. It was a slow, gradual process; college took time from it, then full-time work, then TV became more reliable a source of entertainment, then doing needlework or crafts while I watched TV made picking up a book even less likely. I never stopped buying books, though. I have an entire wall of bookshelves, floor to ceiling, full of books. Most of them I have actually read, but an alarming majority I've bought and never even opened. I find it tremendously difficult to get rid of them; I was always so proud of my reputation as a reader, and I felt a great deal of my value was dependent on how many books I owned and read. A library or a bookstore was what made any location worthwhile to me.

So how to change that habit? Part of the problem comes from the fact that in the last 15-20 years I have become far less interested in fiction than in fact; history, pop culture, biographies, and sociology are more reliably interesting to me now than fiction. I used to inhale novels, picking up and reading SO many books that now I have no interest in. I read questionable fluff too; romance novels for a long stretch there, graphic novels, etc. But now I crave information more than being swept away by a story. That's one reason historical fiction has always been a good match for me; fact combined with fiction. But that means all of the novels and books I collected over the first 2 decades of my life were no longer of interest to me.

On Monday I had 2 hours to kill between work and an appointment, and I was too far from home to make going there an option. So I decided to go to the Franklin library and find a book and just sit and read. And it was WONDERFUL. I picked up a novel by Phillipa Gregory (reasonably decent historical fiction writer) and read for ages. I did it again on Wednesday after work - I knew if I went home when I got off at 4, I would probably take a nap or sit down at the computer... so I went to the library across the street and read for about 90 minutes. This time I checked out a book and brought it home and finished it that same night.

I wish I still had the ability to read until I was sleepy and then just turn out the light and go to sleep, but I seem to have lost that disposition. A book at bedtime makes me very wakeful, and when I read one, I inevitably take an hour or more to actually fall asleep.

I don't like the person I am now who prefers TV to books... I feel like I'm succumbing to more mental laziness and have lost something precious. I've found an author I like right now, so I'm good for a while. But when that's all gone, what will keep me motivated to keep reading? Beyond getting rid of the TV alltogether? AND the ability to watch media online? Not sure.

1 comment:

Mike Howell said...

Is the title an imperative or a past tense verb?

I too used to consume fiction voraciously, but reading stopped feeling like I was actually "doing" something and so was relegated to the same level of whimsy as movies and television for me. I now mostly read people's blogs more than anything.