Friday, August 6, 2010

for the love! (of reading)


For as far back as I can remember, my favourite place to stick my nose has been between two book covers. When I was younger, I would hunker down in a ball on the couch in our living room (or on the cosiest corner of my bed, or by lamplight into the wee hours of the night when I should have been sleeping) and plant my face four inches away from the words in my chosen novel. I would readreadreadreadread until I was yanked back to reality by a tangible human person, or until I fell asleep: book open. I remember vividly, on more than one occasion, my mom or dad or one of my sisters would come and stick their hand in front of my face and wave it around – that being the only way to get my attention once I was glued to the pages.

My love of reading only deepened as I got older and permeated my highschool experience; English was the only class I actually enjoyed and excelled at, purely by nature. English homework was either reading or writing and – hello – that’s not homework at all. College came along, though, and threw what felt like a heavy damp towel over my favourite pastime. Required reading immediately felt required. I actually went through all four years of study without cracking a single textbook spine (save the ones in my English Lit courses, and the few where the textbook was the assignment). In the years after college – what with all the adjustments and Becoming An Adult to do, my books stayed in boxes and my love for reading became something of a memory. I remembered that I used to love to read, and I assumed that – given time – I would still love it, but finding the time to read had fallen so far down the priority list that it grew it's very own colony of dust bunnies. In short, it was all but forgotten. I would wander around bookstores quite often though, new and used alike, and pick up the books - just to pick them up. I would read the titles and critique the cover art and breathe in the scent of literature; I’d even hunker down on occasion, right there in the aisle, when a book would captivate me enough to steal the moment; but reading, and the energy and time required for reading, seemed to evade me.

I can’t remember exactly what got me back – I think it may have been The Paperbag Princess, truth be told – but my love for books and reading slowly reclaimed its rightful spot on the priority list: right near the top. I’ve come so far around the circle that I now have an entire bookshelf of unread books in my bedroom, demanding to be opened, and soon. I am currenly reading 4 books (or 5?), and I keep buying books. I commented to a friend the other day that I have “at least 40” books on my To Read list, though I am quickly realizing that number is far too modest. I have more than 40 books To Read in my bedroom alone, and that doesn’t even count the literal hundreds of books and authors I have note-to-self’d over the past ten years. I have even begun to consider that I might have some kind of brain disorder – who reads that much nowadays anyway? Who wants to spend all their time in books?

…and then I read this (you should read it). My daily stop to Don’s blog is always a lovely and insightful pause amidst the noisy humdrum of my boring desk job, but this post in particular hit a nerve. Specifically, this:

According to Para Publishing, 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. And 42% of college graduates follow suit. 70% of U.S. adults have not stepped into a bookstore in the last 7 years and 80% of American families did not purchase or read a book last year.

Eighty percent of the continent isn’t reading…at all? Some people don’t spend any of their free time in bookstores!? One third of the “educated” population stopped reading after the age of 17?? I can honestly say I’ve not oft’ been happier to be a part of the minority. I am so compelled to leave everything I’ve learned and go back to what I knew as a child: reading is, absolutely, better.

1 comment:

Mama said...

I'm so glad I started reading regularly, I didn't for years. Big mistake. I've always loved coffee table books though. And I always feel compelled to buy books. People at my work read regularly, in fact, a few were reading the same series and even went to Kelowna to meet the author. I wished I was in their group. Next time.....