All my life I have loved to read. I have read a lot – for: university, work, pleasure, and simply information. Sometimes, I become obsessed, and read for hours, trying to learn everything that I can on a particular subject. In fact, I am a “hoarder” of information. I have almost 400 books and dozens of boxes of files in the closet to prove it.
Nora gets it
After all these years, I have found somebody else who understands me. I have decided that Nora Ephron is my “book-whisperer”.
From now on, I plan to let Nora sit on my right shoulder like a good fairy sharing her words of wisdom. She understands me, because she too read a lot. “Reading is one of the main things I do.” she tells us in her essay entitled – “Blind as a Bat”. She continues:
“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”
Oh Nora, I wish you could have come into my life sooner. However, I am glad that you are “here for me” now.
A lot of reading
I am not only a reader, but I am also a book collector. At an early age, I had learned that some books go “out of print” or become hard to acquire over the years. I was told that if you see a book that you are interested in, you should buy it right then because it might not be there later. And so I did. If I was browsing a bookstore and something interested me, I bought it on the spot. It was one of the few things that I bought in multiples – books and shoes. My record for shoes in one day was three. On the other hand, I think my record for books was about twenty. That particular day it had been Australian children’s books, for my grandchildren. Nonetheless, I bought so many that the young associate at the cash register had to get a manager to finalize the sale because it was over a certain dollar limit.
My point is that I have a lot of reading to catch up on. Over the years, many of my books were bought for business purposes, and they no longer have the same appeal. I am finally discarding them. Before they hit the discard-pile however, I usually like to give them a once-over to appreciate why they were attractive, or of interest. Some books like cookbooks will stay on the shelf forever, because they are useful. My self-help books still give me comfort; it’s like having a security blanket inside two covers and a binding. Perhaps some of my gardening books will be passed on to the grandchildren so they will appreciate why their grandmother loves to garden. That will have to wait until they have their first home, of course. Mostly I just have a lot of books on my shelves that I simply want to read. I have been waiting for my “retirement” years to give me more time to indulge myself in the “habit”.
A history of reading
My mother was an avid reader. She taught me my alphabet, and how to read, before I went to school. I thank her for passing her “love of reading” on to me at an early age. I remember as a child I always had books as companions. When I was a teenager, the floor in my bedroom was covered with newspapers and magazines on a particular interest. My bedroom was always an escape to a better place.
Today, I still have a closet full of clippings, many dating back five decades. I kept them because they had something “important” to say. They, along with the almost 400 books (more if you count the ones that I have already discarded and the ones bought for grandchildren), were going to be my solace and my sole occupation when I reached retirement – and I would have “all the time in the world” to READ. That time has arrived.
On the other hand, I have attention deficit disorder (ADD). It sometimes makes it difficult for me to sit quietly for hours on end, and escape into a world of words. I think it’s time to change the channel.
I plan to “take a page” [pun intended] from Nora’s book to guide me for the next decade. At my speed, that’s how long it will take me to get through my current library. That is without factoring in all the new books that I find at the library, in book-reviews, and on the internet (goodreads, Kobo, etc.). In addition to my paper-based books, I have been also building a list of eBooks on my “wish list”.
A new motto
As I am slowly making my way through my collections, I now have Nora – as a cheerleader – while I read. I have earmarked page 52 in her very witty book I Feel Bad About my Neck. I am thinking about making it into a poster, or maybe a toss cushion for the living room:
“Reading is bliss.”
I am grateful that her essay – “Blind as a Bat” – has illuminated the benefits of reading for me. I can get on with the job of tackling my bookshelves – in my guilt-free retirement – leaving the dust bunnies free to play.
What do you like to read? Has finding time to read ever been a battle for you? How do you overcome it?
P.S. When I was writing this blog article I also found this article by “I feel bad about my neck, Too, Nora” that I enjoyed reading. Maybe you will too?