Reading is my comfort and much more than a hobby. It is part of an innate coping mechanism I seem to possess. As a runner training for a marathon or ultra you run many daily miles for months. When it comes to tapering before the race many runners get cranky, myself included. You get twitchy from so much time and less miles. You feel like you are someone else you don’t like. You have a an itch that has no scratch. Reading is my universal itch scratcher. When I don’t read, much like when I don’t run, I get twitchy and irritable. It is my automatic activity for pleasure, information, general happiness, and escape.
In college I took the most classes I could every semester except for one. That semester was remarkable and memorable to me because I a class was dropped at the last minute, and I decided to just let the universe guide my schedule and take the break of less hours. I realized quickly I had way too much time on my hands that was usually slated for studying and dictated by professors’ syllabus so I went to the library. I loved the library at my college and found the new releases shelf that semester. I had no idea it even existed before then. I read almost everything on the shelf. I wish I had the record. I remember reading a book about how Starbucks was started and how it was created to be a third place. In the back of my Franklin planner I used to keep a running list of the books I read. For some reason I decided to discard this list over a decade ago. I cannot recall why I did this – probably because I felt “I didn’t need it anymore.”
I read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and was “caught” reading it in an undergrad linguistics class. I had a classmate come up to me randomly and ask what class I was reading it for. My answer was no class and I remember looking at her incredulously not fathoming why anyone would not read something that wasn’t assigned to them. I was irritated that she assumed I was reading it for a class and not on my own accord. I love that book still and refer to it often.
I am constantly searching for a book that changes me. I have read many books that I have not liked for one reason or another but have been compelled by the same book and find myself thinking about it later. One of these books is 1984. It took me a long time to read it but I enjoyed the story. I didn’t find it difficult to read but had a hard time. The Bone Clocks is another novel that I enjoyed for the concept. I thought it was too long but felt compelled to keep coming back to it. The Course of Love made me angry. I did not like the characters choices but was simultaneously fascinated by the concept of the characters actions being explained by philosophy.
When my life exploded into something I didn’t recognize a couple years ago I went to the library. I looked up the national book award long list and I read the books on that list. I was angry that the books were on the shelves. I figured these books are supposed to be so great why are more people not checking them out? I would leave for work in the morning from my apartment and think about all the activities I would participate in when I got home. I never did any of them. I would stop by the store and decide what to have for dinner based on what protein was on sale and then read. I would get to the point where I would feel like I had absorbed so many words that I needed to talk about the books with someone and then I would consider going to book club but then not go. Reading is a solitary activity for me most of the time.
In middle school I spent my lunch times in the library reading. I was often asked by people how I chose books. I didn’t really have an answer for them. I was picking books for me and the idea that anyone would be concerned with my choices was baffling. I enjoyed this time and it was a good break from the craziness of middle school for me.
Depending on my income determines how many books I buy. The invention of Google Library Extension makes it easy to check on availability and reserve books at the library. It is even easier than Amazon. For many periods I just bought all the books I wanted. I will never figure out how much money that was. The constant is books and reading. No matter where the books come from, I always find a way.