And Indeed There Will Be Time

Pretty much all anyone saw of me from the late 70s to early 90s. Wouldn’t be surprised if this was my yearbook photo.

When I was young, the school librarians all knew me by name, as did the town librarian. I was never seen without a book in my hand (or with my nose buried in one.) I inhaled books. There were never enough hours in the day for reading. I read in the car until it got too dark to do so and cursed the sunset for taking my words away. I read in the mornings and after school; I read in my bed before my mom forced me to turn the lights out and I read in the halls between classes and while choking down whatever the cafeteria offered. I have to wonder if anyone I went to school with could point me out in a lineup; put a book in my hand and bow my head, however, and they’d know immediately it was me, because that’s how they saw me the whole time they knew me.

I still didn’t have enough hours in the day. School got in the way, as did time with my family and church and sleep. All I wanted to do was read. The whole library was full of books; books that I hadn’t read, books that were waiting to be read. By me. There were things I needed to learn and places I didn’t know existed and I wanted to know it all immediately. (I’ve never been very patient. That’s never changed. I still want it all, and I still want it all now.)

I thought to myself, when I was young, “When I’m a grownup, I’ll have all the time in the world to read. I’ll read all day long. I won’t have other things getting in the way. Grownups can do whatever they want. I can’t wait to grow up.”

Little did I know that once you’re a grownup, your time to read shrinks even more. Kids overestimate how awesome it is to be a grownup. Now, listen. I’m not saying it’s not awesome to be an adult. It totally is. You can stay up late and you can have Oreos for dinner, if you want (although it’s not advisable, as you learn when you’ve got indigestion at 3am and have to get up for work at 6am) and you can cuss and no one puts you in a time-out for misbehaving.

But you have even less free time than you did as a kid. You’ve got work and errands and maybe a family, or friends, and a lot of responsibilities. And all of those take time – time that you could be reading. And at the end of the day, you’re exhausted. You try to get a little reading in before you go to sleep, but you wake up with the bedside light on at 2am with your book all scrunched under you and the cat sleeping on your face. I mean. Hypothetically. So I hear tell. From…um…people. Yeah. People. That’s it.

I went from my reading-constantly stage when I was at living with my parents, to my reading-somewhat-constantly stage in college, to my current incarnation of I’m-lucky-if-I-read-100-books-a-year stage I’m in now. At first, I was very upset with myself about this. If I only applied myself, I could get back to my former glory! I could get all those lovely words in my eyeholes again! But after a few years of only reading about 100 books a year (and one very bad year of reading less than fifty – what can I say – I was super-depressed and watching a lot of reality television. The two go hand-in-hand, sometimes.) I decided I had to give myself a break.

I wasn’t reading three hundred books a year (yes, that was the approximate number of books I got up to at my peak of reading) but what I was reading were books I chose more carefully and read more carefully. Up until recently I was reviewing most of the books I read; you can’t skim a book you’re reading for a review. Also, when you get older, it’s harder to skim. I don’t know if any of you have noticed this, but when you’re younger, you just kind of read to read. When you’re older, you read, and you connect to things. You stop; you think about what you’re reading; you maybe take notes, or need a breather, even, if something’s really beautiful. You’re not skimming – you’re wrapped up in the book. You’re living in those pages.

I might be reading less than the wide-eyed little optimist that I used to be planned for the adult I am now, but I’m reading quality (ok, with some crap thrown in; sometimes I need some brain candy in with my intellectual novels) and I’m actually absorbing what I read. I’m proud of my hundred books a year.

And listen, there’s always retirement, right? When I’m retired I can read all day. There won’t be anything in my way then, right?

That wide-eyed little optimist isn’t gone yet, is she? Dammit.

Written by: Amy at Lucy’s Football

23 thoughts on “And Indeed There Will Be Time

  1. I was just like that as a kid. In middle school, I would sometimes prop up my binder at such an angle that it looked like I was looking at my notes when really there was a book inside…

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    1. I hid mine in my lap, and since I was shy, it looked like I was just looking down, but really I was reading. Until I was caught, and then the teacher would do random book-checks to make sure that *gasp* I wasn’t READING, but PAYING ATTENTION IN CLASS. Sigh.

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    1. I don’t have kids, but I have a million extracurricular activities (way too many jobs, mostly) that take away from my reading time. I sneak in all I can, but it’s never enough. I need more hours in a day. 30 would be good. Who can we talk to about this?

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  2. I still read a colossal amount but nowhere near as much as I’d like, because the writing gets in the way now. At one time, when I was commuting by train, I could esaily read 500 books a year. I started keeping index cards (I don’t know how old you are, but you may recall them) with title, author, brief notes, plot lines I liked, but when the first small filecard box got full I reckoned I’d btter stop or by the time I died I’d have an entire house full of index cards, and I’d be living in the shed.
    Outstandingly useful comment from Hemraj Sheth. You hafta love those blogbots.

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    1. I deleted Mr. Sheth, if that indeed was his real name. No, no, blogbots! You are not welcome here!

      I DO remember index cards! I used to have a box of those with book quotes on them, back in the day. Now I just have a Word doc with quotes I like that I look at and sigh happily.

      Living in the shed isn’t optimal. That’s the truth. And 500 books? Whoa! That’s amazing! Go, you!

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    1. I’ve been reading TWO books since May. I’ve completely stalled on both of them. They’re good, too. They’re just huge. And daunting. So I look at them, sigh, and move onto other things. Someday? Maybe? Sighhhh.

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  3. Oh Amy – you and I would have been best buds in school; swapping books and whatnot. This piece is DEAD ON. No, there isn’t enough time for reading and yes, I AM more discerning about what I read and try to slow down and savor the books. But sometimes? Sometimes real life and responsibilities be damned – you will find me in a corner with my nose in a book because THIS one is just too good to be ignored. And those are the days when the laundry doesn’t get done, the house doesn’t get cleaned, I stay up far too late at night – and despite the fact that I end up playing “catch up” for the next few days….it was totally worth it.

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    1. I’ve had a few of those books this year, that I just couldn’t put down. Had one in the lighting booth at the theater in the spring, actually, and the director had to keep poking me and telling me “YOU HAVE A CUE COMING UP!” because I could NOT pull myself out of that book! I eventually had to switch it for some short stories so I could get in and out of them quicker so the actors weren’t getting cues at weird times!

      Thank you so much – I’m so glad people can relate!

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  4. My goodness but you sound so much like a lot of the kids I have been teaching,heads in books, all day. And trust me retirement doesn’t bring more time, like most retired folk i know it becomes a matter of when did I ever have time to go to work? Let alone read…Great post..

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