Monday, January 04, 2010

Bedtime Stories

If you looked throughout my house, there is something (EXCLUDING DUST) that you would find in every room (upstairs, downstairs and in my lady's chamber).  That something would be books.  I have books everywhere.  Piles in the bedroom, a small, select stack in the bathroom (don't EVEN give me grief on that one.  I am a big fan of the reading room).  There are cookbooks in the kitchen, coffee table books in the living room, and a secondary library in the basement.  With books occupying so much real estate and every nook and cranny, you might think I dedicate a lot of time to reading.

I might think that too.  I might even hope it.  But sadly, it's generally not the case.

It's not because I don't like book and I don't like to read.  Au contraire.  I wouldn't buy them if I didn't love them.  In fact, walking into a bookstore, breathing the air and being with "my people" can simultaneously lower my blood pressure and raise my level of excitement to new heights.  There are so many things to read.  There is so much to learn.  There are ideas I haven't heard, and rhymes I haven't yet allowed to trip over my tongue.  I want these things.  I need these things.  Addict?  Maybe so.

The very, very sad thing, though, is that I have practically no time to read.  In fact, for years, I used to go to the beach on vacation with a bagful of books.  It was my only chance to read, and I would take every advantage of it.  No War or Peace, here, but no bodice busters or fluffy summer fare.  My stash would include the best of things I can purchased over the course of the year.  And read, I did.  Sometimes a book a day.  And when I got home? All the books went back into piles, and I would reassess in 365 days.

As much as I looked forward to my annual speed-read-athon, and cherished my one chance to bond with a sheaf of bound paper, there was always a twinge of sadness at the frantic pace I was forced to undertake.  I would forsake walks on the beach, conversations with my family and a wickedly delightful mid-afternoon nap if it meant I could get through that next page... that next chapter... that next section.  If I was lucky, I would achieve a modicum of retention for a week or two after vacation.  But please, don't quiz me on the character traits of the protagonist in the novel The Life of Pi.  I know there was a kid.  And animals.  And a boat.  And it was weird.  And I liked it a lot.  That was the limit of my retention.

As I take baby steps to get my stuff in order I'm finding both the time and the inclination to read in months other than mid-June.  When life and home get too overwhelming, it's so much easier to do a human etch-a-sketch erase on the brain and let the television supply the story and the imagination, and then connect all the dots.  But now, as I'm carving out these little pockets of time for myself, I find I'm looking to create opportunities to read.  It still won't be an all-day literary affair, complete with cheese and crackers and wine, or an hour-long soak in the tub.  I doubt that I will ever have that kind of time.  But I AM looking forward to crawling in bed and reading a chapter or two as a way to treat myself at the end of the day.

Every day.
And not just days in June.


Anonymous said...

I just finished two books yesterday - one of them I started in Lent, thinking I'd finish it in the 40 days - the Apocrypha - part fascinating, part boring - which explains why it sat around until almost Epiphany!


Unknown said...

Love reading, owning, hoarding, staring at shelves, smelling, and buying books. Reading is a good thing, but just having them around in droves is also pretty darn rewarding. A Dusty Book Is Still A Book.