I always want to respond, “How do you not find time to read books?” I don’t say that because it seems a bit rude to assume other people share my addiction, but still, I wonder.
Each time I choose a book, it is like opening a present. Reading feeds my soul, gives me respite from my day, allows me to travel through time and space. Books allow me to connect with people from all over the world. How can anyone not make time in their lives for that?
I was born into a world of books. My earliest memories include noticing fat paperback novels next to my dad’s ashtray and thumbing through my mom’s collection of Kahlil Gibran poems before I could make sense of the words. I do not read books, so much as devour them. In fact, my mother tells me that as a toddler I would not go to bed without a book. By morning I had torn out each page. I am convinced this was my early attempt at reading.
Throughout my childhood and teen years, my need to read continued. No matter how much homework I had, or how long rehearsals went, the day could not end without sometime time spent reading for enjoyment. College was harder. My class load and devotion to theatre took up too much of my time. I felt the lack of fiction acutely. I grew depressed and ached for home, craving childhood comforts like rereading the Trixie Belden series in my own bed.
Now, as mom to three school-age boys, “Not enough time” comes with the territory. And still, I read. Books – fiction, memoir, narrative non-fiction – have become more important to me than ever. They provide escape from spelling words and basketball scores. They enrich dinner-table topics and provide fodder for actual adult conversation. I am as likely to discuss the latest Ann Patchett novel as I am the merits of standardized testing. That is a good thing.
I am proud to pass this legacy on to my sons. The local library is as familiar to them as it is to me. My living room tables and shelves exist under piles of books and magazines. More than once I’ve had to say, “Don’t’ read when you’re going down the stairs.” Best of all, my sons end their days books in hand, travelling to distant places before dream-sleep ever sets in.
I breathe and eat to stay alive. I read to feel alive.