Monday, June 27, 2011

The Joy of Reading

365 Bedtime Stories by Nan Gilbert was a gift to my two sisters and me when we were in early/mid grade school.  In our living room there was a swivel rocker that sat next to the front door.  If I opened the inner door and turned the chair around to face the wall, it created a cozy, private reading alcove where I spent hours reading this book start to finish - much to the consternation of my older sister.  Being the organized, rule-following sister in the group, she felt I had "ruined it" for everyone by reading ahead.  But how could I not?  How could I content myself with a few minutes per evening sharing adventures with the kids on What-A-Jolly Street?  I didn't have that kind of patience.  There was just no choice but to devour the entire 365 days as fast as possible.
If you have never said "Excuse me" to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time.  ~Sherri Chasin Calvo
What happened to that kind of excitement about reading?  Today when I try to sit down to read, excitement is replaced with responsibilities and distractions.  No matter how many times I promise myself I'll watch TV less and read more, I end up giving in to "just once through the channels" and an hour passes without me having focused on any one show.  A mindless, wasted hour filled with bits and pieces of a dozen shows I wouldn't waste the electricity to watch - yet I just blew the hour anyway.   If it's not the TV, it's the un-folded laundry or the dusty shelf that niggles at the back of my mind, reminding me what I "should be" doing instead.

As a child, I read only books that attracted me.  I never forced myself to read a story that didn't grab my attention. There were no "should be's" in chidlhood reading.  Now, that annoying librarian in my head says "You should be starting the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  You're not as young as you used to be!"   My conscience says "You should be reading books about socially relevant issues."  My blogging alter-ego says "You should be reading the current trends and hot bestsellers.  That's what people want to hear about."

Being a woman "of a certain age" comes with it's own distractions.  Gone are the days of sitting cross-legged in an oversize chair or holding a book under the covers for hours.  First my lower back begins to ache, then the restless legs twitch.  My arms tire in one position so I shift frequently.  I'm loosing feeling in my left hand, and now my hip hurts...

I want that youthful enthusiasm back.  That one-lane focus that blocks out everything but the joy of reading.  An excitement for a story that outweighs sleep and hunger.  How do you balance books and real life?  Do you have a special place where you can always get comfy and read?  Do you still feel like a kid when you get a new book?  
There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read.  ~G.K. Chesterton


  1. I try to balance my reading to include books I really want to read (regardless of when they were written), some books I think I should read (classics) and new books I'm trying based on hearing about them from other bloggers. Life is too short to read stuff you don't really want to read but I fell like I need to have a balanced diet in my reading just like in my diet.

  2. I had that very same book when I was a young girl! I always loved fairy tales. I still have that same love for reading. I just love books!
    Dianne @

  3. Except for book group selections, I read what I want because that is something that is *mine*. It's fun to look back at the reading journal and notice my trends. Right now it's children's lit, noir, and Canadian Lit.

    I have the same problem with being comfortable for very long.