Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I have always loved to read. My family read to me a lot as a little girl. I picked up reading early and was a fast learner. I was always advanced in reading starting in elementary school. I was allowed to read different books than the other kids because I was going to lose my mind from boredom if I had to read what they read. I recall being a voracious reader as a child. One of my favorite things in the world was going each week to the public library. I can still remember that delicious, magical feeling - walking through the aisles of books - endless choices. You were allowed to check out a giant stack of books. Seriously, I can remember this scene pretty vividly. The feelings. I remember sitting in my room reading for hours. I remember the excitement of a good book. I remember going on vacations as a kid and reading, reading, reading. I also loved the annual book fairs at our school. Tables and tables of new books = heaven. I still get that feeling when I walk into a bookstore today and see the rows and rows of books. I love bookstores.
My reading was cut back in high school because there were lots of distractions. Then in college reading was more focused on text books and required reading, although I do recall getting a few good books in there. I was an African Studies major so I read a lot of African literature. I started reading more again in my 20s when I was living and working in Washington, DC. I had a job, and money to blow on books, and Washington DC had Kramer Books – always one of my favorite bookstores. I could not walk in there without buying at least one book, and often more. Kramer Books really introduced me to the world of non-fiction. Up until my 20s I had, for the most part, read only fiction. The selection of books at KB – on politics, international development, the environment, and such – was fantastic – very Washington DC, very geeky me, and that started a trend of reading more and more non fiction; but fiction is still my passion and I read far more of it than anything else. I would always have books stacked on my nightstand, waiting for me to love them. But it wasn’t as easy to read those days because of work and well, just "life" things. I found myself not reading as much as I wanted to. So, I helped organize a book club with some friends that went on for two years or maybe more. That was a wonderful experience. It got me to read a steady stream (one a month or so) of really, really good books – both classics and new ones at the time - many I might not have chosen to read on my own. I miss being in a book club.
In my 30s I traveled a lot for work and I always took a good book with me. I tried to read books about the places where I was traveling. India was a gold mine for discovering great books. I discovered the world of South Asian literature. For awhile that seems to be all I read - books from South Asian authors. Books you didn't find displayed in most US bookstores.
Once again I find myself at this point in my life where I am not reading enough. Piles of unread books in my home – staring sadly at me. Reviews I read and add to a list of books that I just do not seem to buy. My idea of joining the library in Salt Lake City still hanging out there, not acted on. Some of the books I bought years ago are still sitting next to my bed, begging me to read them. In my defense, this past year has been life changing and hectic (selling my house, moving west, getting married, family things, etc.). But I should still be reading, right? Now I think that one of the biggest barriers to my reading life is my computer. I spend so much time on the computer, that it has taken away the time I might sit and read. I am sure I am not alone out there. This world we live in – so much going on and so much we can be doing – it makes it challenging to sit down and read sometimes. Reading requires a different pace than a lot of the other things that go on around us now. Even for fast readers like me.
I am going to change this. New year resolution – I will join the public library. I will start reading book reviews again for ideas. I will work on reading the stacks of books in my house. I will find a book club because that is a great motivator to get you off your ass and read – nothing like the peer pressure of having to show up at someone’s house and contribute to a conversation to force you to find the time to read that book you really do want to read.
And my kick-start for these changes is the beach. I always read at the beach. Voraciously. I’ve been known to read 3-4 books in a week at the beach. I border on being anti-social. Leave me alone so I can keep reading. I can’t carry on a conversation with you because I am thinking about the characters in my book. I just want to sit by the pool or on the beach, in the sun, reading. Leave me alone. I want to be totally lost in the world of my books. So…I am at the beach right now, just finished book #1 and starting up book #2, and hoping to get through at least one or two more. I brought four books with me and then bought two more at the airport. I can’t help myself. I love books.