In the almost-20 months since my son was born, I have read one – MAYBE two – books to full completion. In the one case I am certain of, the book was for work and it was required for discussion at our staff meetings and I was allowed to read on the job. I still struggled.
I used to read SO MANY BOOKS. During my last year of college and for 5 years after, I worked at (the best) independent bookstore. Reading was a job requirement so I could make good recommendations and know what people were talking about. It was also facilitated by the ability to purchase books at cost or ‘rent’ them free of charge (as long as they were returned in like-new condition.) I barely broke minimum wage at that job, but with the cheap or free books and the free coffee and day-old pastries (from the café in the store, where I also worked some shifts and had many friends), I really only needed enough money for my rent, gin and tonics, and the cover at Ladies 80’s night on Tuesdays.
Even after the bookstore job ended (a job I romanticize to this day, if you couldn’t tell), I read a lot. I spent entire DAYS reading, sometimes. I distinctly remember a three day stretch over the holidays when my roommates were out of town, and I spent nearly every waking minute reading a book I was engrossed in – emerging only to make sandwiches or go to the bathroom. As a kid, I preferred the company of books to people (arguably, I still do) and could easily plow through a pile from the library in just a couple of weeks. When we were staging our first house to sell it and the realtor told me I had to put all of my books in storage, I went into a kind of depression. What kind of a home isn’t filled with books?
So, to realize one day that I haven’t finished more than a single book in over a year . . .well, I think it calls my identity into question more thoroughly than almost anything. Last week I also had a dream featuring a friend with whom writing and reading was the primary basis of our relationship. I sent her a text to tell her, and she asked what I’d been writing. Nothing. Nothing besides this, I mean (which isn’t nothing, it’s just a LOT LESS than I used to write.) “Having a baby makes you dumb.” I told her. “Or, it made me dumb anyway.”
So, yesterday I made the decision to rededicate myself to reading. I’m starting there, because getting over the writing hump feels so much harder. And maybe it’s a cliché, but it’s a good one: you really can’t write well if you aren’t a reader. I need more words in my head, I need my brain stimulated in a different way. I went to the library and got a card (L and A already have Seattle Library cards, but not me!) and spent an hour looking around for books to read. I got myself a memoir, a novel, and a non-fiction book, figuring if one didn’t take, another would. I asked L if we could not turn on the TV after A goes to bed, unless it is for a very specific show, to avoid the zombie suck that is The Food Network and HGTV. I got through 50 pages of the novel last night and it felt SO GOOD.
So here’s to more reading . . .especially books with paper instead of cardboard pages.
And, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a Halloween picture. So here we are: Mary Poppins and Her Sweeps!