Remembering Why I Read

I forgot why I read books. Can you imagine that? I am, at heart, a word lover. I have been since the moment I faked reading a book for a summer reading thinga-ma-jig for the library when I was six. I remember my sister asking me to read her a book I was looking at. I opened it wide, proud, and started dragging my finger right to left along the words, showing her the pictures. What I didn’t know, was that the book was upside down – the pictures looked all right to me. My patient, loving sister never said a word.

So here I am, more than thirty years later and I forgot. Life got hard, and I couldn’t read anymore. I had to force feed myself books to stimulate my writing muscles. My attention span was shortened to almost nil for anything that I had to read.

That is, until the other day when I was getting an oil change. The manager of the place noticed I was reading Jennifer Crusie’s Maybe This Time.

He asked me about it, telling me he had a thing for real books, you know, the paper kind? He said that his walls were lined with them. And I think I fell for him right then and there, in his cute little cap and striped Oil Can Henry’s shirt.

Sorry husband. A man, who is thinking about reading a hardback romance novel? Sigh. (That’s not really a pic of the manager, by the way.)

Well, I was reading it because when I have to read, which I do, and nothing else is digestible, I go back to the old standbys – the ones that make me laugh and smile and say, “Oh yeah, this.” Not because it was new to me and I needed to gobble it up. But that conversation? I think it may have ignited my desire to read again.

And then slowly, slowly, it’s started to return. It all started coming back to me, why words are the blood in my veins. If I’m having trouble dealing with a tragic death, a book will fall into my hands and it will explain things to me, things that no other human could possibly tell me. It might come veiled as a romance novel, but the answers will still be there.

Or I’ll be googling a problem a friend is dealing with, and I’ll stumble upon something, some study at a university, that is directly related to my own situation instead of the one I had been researching. Suddenly, I’ll feel the weight lifted from my shoulders, as now, now, it is all clear.

Remembering the reason why the written word needs to be an important part of my life was a slow process.

But now, I’m jonesing to read another book. So Yay for men who read real books and work at Oil Can Henry’s. And Yay for books that don’t need batteries or USB charging cables.

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2 thoughts on “Remembering Why I Read

  1. I’m still a big fan of paper books as well. I’ve noticed over the years that the reason I read has changed. I used to read non-fiction for the facts and fiction for the escape, but in the last few years I read also as a writer, getting sucked in to the minutae, taking note of devices, voice, and approach, wondering about an author’s word choice and character motivation. I find that the minute I finish a book, I’m scheming about which one in the deep pile to read next, and I’m embarrassed to say that I have a little ADD because I often read two or three at once, hopping back and forth between them. I finished a book last night and in the back of my mind all day today played a debate over which one to start tonight. There are SO many to choose from!

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