On Books and Reading

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If I were to tell you I love to read, it probably wouldn’t come as much of a shock. After all, I’d wager many (most?) writers are also readers. I’d guess a lot of us were inspired to write because we’ve felt a deep love for books, because we felt what they were keenly, because we wanted to try to do the same for a reader enjoying our own work. That is at least true for me, anyway.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading, and loving it. I certainly recall a fondness books before I had any interest in writing them. As a girl, I enjoyed inventing stories about people, but I didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer, really, that I was a writer, until I was 23. I knew I was a reader, and an eager one at that, many, many years prior. In elementary school I remember walking through the hallway of school with my nose in a book, because I just had to finish that chapter, my trusted friend steering me through the passing students by the elbow (Thanks, Nicole!). In high school, instead of studying or sleeping, I would stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning reading a whole book a night. Books were a release for me, and an escape, the same, and yet different, than writing.

You will never hear me claim to be a great reader. I am a little embarrassed to admit I don’t read widely. I’ve only read a handful of the classics, and hardly any of the really popular books on bestseller lists. This isn’t because I’m snobby about my reading, simply that I would rather re-read a favorite any day. I suppose I’m the opposite of adventurous when it comes to reading. I do read new books, but it’s the old favorites that hold a special place in my heart. I don’t care how nerdy that makes me sound! If I love a book, as in deep-down in my bones, love it so much I would get a tattoo in its honor (been there, done that, true story) I will read it five, ten, twenty, fifty, even a hundred times. Yes, I think I’ve actually read some of them that often. Some people find that boring. My husband teases me. “How can you read the same book again? Don’t you know what happens?!” And to him I answer, with loving snark, “I see you’re enjoying cheesecake again. I thought you already had that once? Don’t you know how it tastes?”

Re-reading a favorite book is like visiting with an old friend. It’s cool if that’s not how you see it, but I find it comforting. No matter how many times I’ve read my favorites, something still surprises me each time. Reading my favorite books from years ago now, through the eyes of a writer on top of being a reader, well, that’s even more special. I love falling back in love with the books I so admired as a child.

As a writer, I find myself envious of the talent these authors have, of the emotions they can invoke in me after I’ve read their words so many times I have whole passages memorized. I find myself trying harder to be just a fraction as good as they are. To someday hope someone will feel that way about what I write. And I appreciate my books more than ever now, because these days I just can’t devote the time to reading that I used to. I don’t know any mother of three who would willingly stay awake until 2am when she didn’t have to! Alas, my darling books get dropped lower on the list these days. I can’t read a whole book a night anymore. So no, I don’t read widely, or greatly, or quickly these days. But, I read passionately. I would not be me without the words that have shaped me, from my father’s poetry, to Harry Potter, to Pride & Prejudice, to historical romances, to fairytales, to the Little House books, to my favorite novel ever, Beauty by Robin McKinley. All of these, my old pals, inspired me then, inspire me now. And that’s only naming a few. I have many, many more book friends. (You can find out more in my ever-expanding Library page in the menu.)

Now, I’ve got a stack of books on my nightstand. Fourteen of them, plus a Kindle, to be exact. And that’s just on the top shelf. And yes, I counted. Depending on my mood any one of these might make it into my hands tonight, and be the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. It’s exciting, I think, not knowing which one I’ll choose yet. And I can’t help but think how very fortunate I am that there are just so many there, right at my fingertips. If I were to walk out to my living room, there’d be a whole bookcase full. And if I waited till I got to work- at a public library- well, it’s practically a whole universe of possibility.

We are so very lucky, us readers, to love books like we do.

Tell me, are you a book re-reader, or no? If yes, which are your tried and true favorites?

 

 

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