Just seeing a picture of colourful book spines is enough to make me feel charged and run again to my bookcase. It’s a reminder of one of the things I love to do most, because it goes hand in hand with my writsomnia.
There’s a stack of books on my nightstand, some of them with bookmarks sticking out of the middle, others waiting to be opened. A magazine with historical photos of my favourite city rests at the bottom, supporting the small tower on its wide cover, while several new additions to my library are lying atop the novels properly lining my bookshelves. So many memories and so many worlds at my fingertips.
During today’s Internet wanderings I came across this enjoyable and very relatable article on how to fit more reading in your daily routine. I wouldn’t say I’m a particular supporter of setting reading goals for myself – I tend to lean heavily towards wishes, curiousity and basic need. This probably stems from the many years of having to work with reading lists, first in heavily humanities based high school classes, then in a even more heavily literature based university course with a hastily put together curriculum. I never measured my personal reading, I just did it. And I’m afraid I still harbour a deeply-seated mistrust of school reading lists, while at the same time retaining proper respect for homework and school as a fact of life. By coincidence, the reading lists I had to deal with rarely reflected my tastes at that moment in time. But they encouraged me to make lists for myself, something I have taken up with renewed enthusiasm as an adult.
I’ve probably also been spoiled by always being allowed to curl up with whichever book I wanted and having the space at home to do so, not to mention a literature professor mother who I could ask about aforementioned literary works for university courses (cough).
The article by Mashable’s Scott Muska lists the very first tip which I myself love – to never leave home without a book. A friend of mine once said she liked to have a bag that would always fit a book, and I agree. Paperbacks are usually easy to take along, and even if I don’t get to peek in during the day (torture), it’s still comforting to know it’s there. And e-readers are a godsend! Being a big fan of turning pages and scrutinizing covers in anticipation, it took me a little time to warm up to mine, but I did. Grabbing a moment to read when you are waiting or not really doing anything somewhere is another tip the article gives – one of my favourite places to do this is the subway or the bus. I also discovered this increases my reading speed – something about being in a contained bubble of time until you have to get out. If not for a goal, reading does bring you towards a special sense of achievement. And reading before bed is a sure-fire way to get sleepy after a long day at work.
I don’t remember not being conscious of reading or what a book was. My great-grandmother was an educator and a large part of her career was spent teaching both children and adults how to read. Her daughter, my grandmother, became a beloved employee of her university library. Bookshelves lined the walls of her own home, where in turn her daughter, my mother, would spend hours reading, something she quietly learned to do on her own at the tender age of three, while listening to my grandmother teaching someone else in the family. It was at my great-grandmother’s house, also full of books, that my mother was discovered sitting on the floor next to an encyclopedia half her size, carefully turning pages. She would read to her own children, in some cases the same book several times over with each child. My father would take over on the evenings when she worked, patiently waiting while I “explained” the story myself based on the illustrations.
This connection with the printed and the written has followed me through several generations. I remember wandering around, trying to see what was on the topmost bookshelves in my childhood home and feeling confident that one day I would get to find out for myself. I remember taking learning to read as a given next step, and the elation of my first book-based discussions with both adults, siblings and friends alike. I remember light arguments about finally turning the light off on a school night not because of phone calls or too much TV, but because of being stuck in a book, vaguely muttering, “In a minute” and having that minute turn in to half an hour. I also remember trying to read under the covers with a flashlight à la my hero Harriet the spy, but it wasn’t as comfortable, so I abandoned that particular method.
Nothing has really changed, except that I may actually be sleepy the next morning since I stayed up reading, as the days of parental supervision are behind me, continuing a heated inner dialogue about the story until I get to lose myself in it outside of my mind either here or in a conversation.