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