So I’ve been reading again.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve outgrown a lot of things. Boundless energy, for one. A passion for miniature replicas of everyday items, for another. There was the turtle/frog phase, the playing orphanage phase, the pictures of shirtless Tom Cruise phase (Side note: This was when I first discovered the internet. And hot on the heals of this new delight was the revelation that one must be careful what one searches for on the internet. A shirtless Tom Cruise can very easily become a pantsless Tom Cruise, and at that point it’s only the sluggishness of a circa 1997 dial-up that preserves one’s innocence). But my childhood left me with one enduring passion: Reading. I thought maybe I’d sort of outgrown this too, but recent events have proven otherwise.
Tom Cruise has changed. I haven't.
I spent last week in a self-imposed prison. I say prison because it’s the only word strong enough to convey the hold on me certain books can get. To say I become enthralled is not enough. Distracted, addicted, consumed…those get a little closer. But I think it’s safe to say that I am held captive by books. They don’t even have to be particularly fantastic books either—obviously, because The Babysitter’s Club has stolen many an hour of my life. But if there’s a story and I want to know how it ends, I have to say goodbye to every other thing I have going on in my life until it’s over. My family used to tease me for trying to read books at the dinner table, while walking, while I was supposed to be doing homework or practicing the piano or playing outside in the summer.
What? I'm doing my homework.
What? I'm practicing piano.
What? My hair is permed. Especially my bangs.In the last few years I’ve gone on and off with reading because I’ve become ridiculously busy. But every once in awhile, one of these books grabs hold of me and it’s not until a few days later, when I dazedly come up for air and see the shambles that is my neglected life, that I realize I have a problem.
I’m starting to think it’s not healthy. Like any other hobby, I guess it can be too all-consuming and start to steal from the other facets of life…like personal hygiene and social pursuits. Because when I read, I don’t care if I see another soul for days. I can’t seem to find the motivation to go running or eat a real meal or stick to a normal-length lunch break because the alternate world I’ve entered is much more inviting. Scary, isn’t it? I’ve always thought it was ok because, well, it’s reading. It’s not video games and it’s not porn and it’s not drugs or Renaissance reenactments or, I dunno, compulsive gambling or other things I consider deplorable. It’s reading. Reading is good for you! Reading makes you smarter! Reading is something precious, an ability and a privilege held sacred since the invention of writing. Right?
Is it possible that reading, for me, is a vice?
I just felt like saying nay.
But really, I hope not. It’s true, I probably need to chill out a bit and not give up the few hours of sleep I’m lucky to get by finishing a few more chapters of my latest book. But I can’t do it! It’s a dang good thing that this relatively innocent thing happens to be my compulsion because the lack of self-control I’m exhibiting is frightening. I’m starting to get an idea of what life would be like if I had a fondness for alcohol. Thank goodness for acceptable pursuits!
So I’ve been reading again. And how.
In the last 2 weeks I’ve read The Hiding Place and all three Hunger Games books, and now I’m on to Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff. Any new recommendations for me? I’m on a roll.