May 30th, 2012
I’ve had people remark to me that they don’t read books very often. Or, in some cases, at all.
I find this to be nothing less than astonishing. To me, it’s akin to saying I don’t think, or I don’t dream. For books are the stuff of thoughts and dreams! How can one not read? Not for self-edification, for pleasure, for learning? For…for something?
I remember soon after the Tech Guru and I began seeing each other seriously, he commented that I was the first woman that he’d ever lain in bed with and read a book. And he found the experience to be novel and wonderful, that here was a woman he could lie in bed and read with and feel comfortable. It was strange to him, I think, but a good strange.
Reading is not optional to me. It’s something I sneak in to the busiest day possible. Even when I first had Punksin and my mind had turned to mush as I became accustomed to being a mother for the first time, I had to read, even if it was absolute drivel. People, Us Weekly, it wasn’t the most literary stuff, to be sure, but it was often all my mind could handle at early morning feedings or while nursing before bedtime. But gradually those gave way to the old stories of my childhood, as I began reading to Punksin while she nursed at nighttime. As much for my pleasure as for hers, I re-read old classics, Greek myths, fairytales, things I knew I’d have to revisit when she got older, but still…I read. I had to.
How can one not read?
Even audiobooks, which I resisted like the plague for the longest time, have become a joy to me. I’m now listening to Shantaram, a 43-hour long epic of a novel which is fascinating, hilarious, poignant, frightening, and moving. I love that this book is so long in the telling because frankly, I don’t want it to end. When a good book ends, it feels like losing a friend. I remember when I finished The Kite Runner. For several days afterwards, I couldn’t start another book. Instead, I went through my days thinking on what I’d read, experiencing the emotions, the sadness, the horror, all over again. I couldn’t just walk away from that book and move on. I needed time to soak in what I’d read and get over it, before I could pick up the next book.
Pudding is slowly but surely making his way into the land of literacy. He can identify the, she, he, me, and see. As I read to him at night, I point those words out when I come across them and wait for him to read them, and the greater joy is not in his identifying them correctly, but in the pride and pleasure he tries so hard to hide. But I see it – I hear it in his voice. He pretends, as with his latest swimming test, that he does not care. But the smile I see flit across his lips before he purses them to hold it back shows me that he cares. And I am so glad that he cares. He cannot be my son and not care about reading.
I cannot understand people who do not read. There is so much to learn. So much to explore. So much to be amazed at, both in fact and fiction. Books speak to the depths of my soul – even the bad ones. Even the poorly written ones, in raising my anger and my horror, are pulling something out of me.
No matter how tired I am at night, I must read. Even if it is merely a few pages, books are my cocoa before bedtime. And then, when my eyes are too tired and begin slurring across the page like a drunk at a bar, I turn to my audiobook and have my reader read me to sleep. Often the Tech Guru and I lie there together, each reading in our own world, a leg draped over the other’s leg, a foot absently caressing the other’s foot. We read in companionship. In the morning, Punksin, my early riser, reads as she waits for me to find consciousness. And sometimes, if her brother awakens, she reads to him too, her soft voice bringing me gently out of sleep, making me smile at the loveliness of the two of them curled up in her bed, his little face peering raptly at the pictures as she turns the pages and brings the words to life.
Such a simple thing, reading, and yet how many who can’t wish they could? How many today know or remember that in long ago days reading was a privilege reserved for a select few, because those in power knew how stimulating reading could be? As I said, books are the stuff of dreams and thoughts, and thought comes before action. Share your thoughts and you can affect many. Read certain thoughts and you can be powerfully moved.
I’m off to my favorite pastime right now. If you’re reading this, then you’re reading…something. But for God’s sake, go read a book. And if you can’t or won’t read often, then don’t pick up just any drivel when you do. Read classic literature, read today’s noteworthy authors, read something that leaves a lasting impression. Read something that fortifies your spirit, read something that teaches you something new, read something that leaves you in awe. But please…read.
- From Whence Does My Love of All Things Books Derive? (bookshopblog.com)
- The Learning Network Blog: On June 7, Join the Conversation About Summer Reading (learning.blogs.nytimes.com)
- March 2012 in Review (literatehousewife.com)