“Surely she was entitled to read, had seen to it that she inconvenienced no-one. People who wanted her to give up reading were asking too much without offering anything in return.” I for Isobel, Amy Witting.
Reading/Breathing – Both Essential to Life
Like many of you, I love reading. I always have – it is part of who I am. One of my mum’s frequent laments when I was a child went something like “why can’t you be a normal kid, get your head out of that book and go outside to play?” I read at every meal I ate on my own. I read on the toilet. I read while cleaning my teeth. I read before school, and during breaks, and after school, and of course, in bed until all hours of the night. At primary school, I was a library monitor, and loved it. Dewey decimal satisfied my need for order and lists, and I also reached Level 20 at covering books in contact. Not the tiniest bubble. Matched folds, sharp corners. Works of art!
Libraries – Home Away from Home
Libraries were, and still are, places where I can walk in and just feel like I belong. Even as I’ve mostly had to morph my usage of them over the years from leisure to study, I still feel a calm when I enter. I have strong memories of our little local library as a child – small, dark, with musty corners and dim lights; it was a place of discovery. The “new” library is larger, open plan, light and glass and modern. I’ve learned to love it as well, but you know what? It hasn’t had the time (or perhaps enough soft furnishings) to yet develop the smell. You know the one, that book smell you breathe in deeply, feeling it nourish your soul. A decade or so ago, Mr. ETT and I had the opportunity to visit the Trinity College Library, in Ireland, which is over 400 years old. It is so magnificent, and awe-inspiring, it brought tears to my eyes!
Still Reading – Just?
My time for reading has morphed as well. I no longer feel I have the time to just sit and read. I read in bursts, small snatches of a few pages here and there. I have a book next to my bed, which I might manage to read for 5 minutes before I’m too tired to go on. I have a book in the bathroom (some childhood habits are never broken – and what else are you supposed to do?) I also have audio books on my iPad that I listen to while doing housework or driving. I worry that devoting large chunks of time to reading for pleasure is a skill that I have lost. I don’t know if I am able to just sit and concentrate on a single thing any more. The lure of the TV, the Interwebs, the pull of obligations,
trying to navigate a vessel through the vast reaches of space… I guess it comes down to my priorities. Why has something that has been so integral to my entire life now relegated to “when I can”? It’s not actually any more difficult to read a book than to watch TV. It is, however, a solo pursuit (harking back to my mother’s catch-cry). When we are watching TV, Mr. ETT and I are participating in a story together, just in a different format. And after work, we like to try to spend time together. Maybe I need to look at other times I can sit down and just read. If it is a skill that I’ve lost, then perhaps with practice, I can get it back again. Or is it like exercise – it’s OK to break it into smaller sessions, as long as your total hits the requirement for health? Actually, now I’ve written that, I reject it. Thinking of reading in that light makes it feel like a chore!
Where’s the Proof?
Like all hypotheses, my feeling that I’m not reading enough needs to be supported by data (data, YAY!). I will keep track of all the times I read during a week, and decide if there is any proof for my concerns. Hopefully we will see some lovely data that can support decision-making, and perhaps even a graph if we’re lucky.
How do you consume books? Do you devote time to reading?
|Time well spent this trip…|
|Book:||The Demon Apostle by R. A. Salvatore|