Monday, April 26, 2010

Habit.

I love reading. I absolutely love it.

Growing up, I read constantly. And I give my mom all the credit for this, since she read to us (I suspect) in utero and until we could read ourselves. And she diligently took us to the library and let us get as many books as we wanted. I’d leave with an armload, slightly embarrassed, and begin devouring them as soon as I got into the car. I hated that our local library was so close. We'd pull into the driveway within five minutes - not even enough time to finish a chapter. But as soon as I could, I’d race upstairs and begin ignoring all responsibilities.

It always astonishes me that words on a page can evoke so much emotion. Many books have made me cry, but the one I remember most clearly is A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin. I read this some time in the eighth grade. At bedtime, I asked my parents if I could read for a little bit longer and I think they forgot about me. I stayed up past four finishing it. It’s about two best friends, one blond and one with dark hair, who take ballet together. The dark-haired friend gets cancer. Of course, I became the blond friend and Kathleen was the graceful one who got the cancer. I sobbed and sobbed, and then I read it again, and sobbed some more.

I can only remember one book that made me jump, like a scene from a thriller. It was 1984 by George Orwell. I won’t give away the scene, but when a voice reveals itself to the two lovers, I was so surprised that I dropped the book. That, my friends, is incredible writing.

One of my most recent favorites – and I suppose this is rather dull, considering nearly everyone in the world has read this – is Watership Down. At twelve, I borrowed it from my Grandma’s house one evening and after ten or fifteen pages thought it was horribly boring. Recently, I picked it back up and raced through it like a bat out of hell. The action is so fast-paced and gripping and the characters are so real, and there's nothing I can say about it that hasn't been said a thousand times. When I demanded that my sister read it, Erin looked at the cover and said, “Bunnies?!” Yeah, that was my first thought, too.

After our wedding, I fell out of reading. Well, I should probably say that I fell out of the kind of reading that makes you race through books and stay up late and forget about chores. I read marriage books and self help books. I got out my highlighter. I memorized. And then I started classes again and I bought textbooks. And when I wasn’t studying, I was hanging out with my new husband. And I didn’t think about reading. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

And then I finished my classes. And we finished building the new house and we moved in and life became quieter. And I googled my local libraries and I finally made time to go and once again I found myself checking out with an armload of books, slightly embarrassed. And I got in the car and didn’t start the engine right away. Instead, I read. And after forty-five minutes, I finally drove home. A couple nights later, when I couldn’t sleep, I sneaked into the bathroom and read for hours, sitting cross-legged on a folded towel and using my cell phone to illuminate the pages so that the bright bathroom lights wouldn't wake Brian.

It was wonderful.

And since then, more or less, I've kept it up, sometimes forcing myself through a book of history or a classic that I feel I should read but have no interest in. (Sister Carrie, anyone? Ugh.) Sometimes I neglect the library because I’m focusing on gardening books or holiday shopping. But then, suddenly, I will crave a book deeply, and I’ll drop everything and go.

A couple weekends ago, my basic chores were done and I decided to ignore my list. I spent Saturday and Sunday reading book after book after book. (Full disclosure: I was reading the Mitford series by Jan Karon, and those books are the literary equivalent of cheddar-flavored kettle-cooked potato chips.) I felt so indulgent, as though I were eating entire desserts at one sitting, a chocolate cake and then a pie and then a caramel flan.

Right now I’m reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. I love it, and if I had to compare it I'd pick To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s exactly the type of book I love to read. Really, my tastes are pretty varied but I generally steer clear of chick-lit or romances unless they are really, really gripping. It's usually because I almost always hate the typical heroine: you know, someone with an “unbreakable spirit” or a “spark in her eye," always oblivious to the fact that all the men think she’s gorgeous. Also, to my dismay, I’m not great with non-fiction. I don’t devour biographies and histories like I’d like to but every now and then I’ll try to muscle one down.

I am almost embarrassed to explain that I love bestsellers and classics the most, but isn’t there a reason why they’ve gotten into that category?

And so I realize this is long, sort of a kid’s report: "Why I Love Reading", etc., but I just want to stress that if you are reading anything good, anything at all, I want to know. And that if I'm reading something good, I'll mention it.

-Maeg

2 comments:

  1. Please let me know if you read anything good. Every time I think i've finally found something that I'll like, there ends up being either a ton of swearing or sex scenes. And I'm tired of Christian fiction because they are either so much like secular books that you can't tell the difference (except for some references to God) or they beat you over the head with their message.

    If I find anything good, I'll let you know.

    Okay, end of long comment. Hope all is well.

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  2. the brunette girl in the book :)May 31, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    awww i was the one who got cancer and you cried... thanks for thinking of me :)

    ReplyDelete