O Bookworm, Where Art Thou?
Yesterday, September 6, was apparently Read a Book Day (or so I was informed by a ThinkGeek email).
Which made me realize how much I miss reading. I was a voracious bookworm as a child and teen, capable of devouring 200 pages in perhaps 90 minutes. I lived at the public library (to be fair, it was a block from my house). Often, I had two or four books going at once, while able to keep the plots and characters straight. I might get a new book at school and read it while walking home that afternoon. I could read while watching TV or in any other noisy situation.
I don’t read anymore. Unless you count textbooks, psychology articles, tweets, blogs, emails, Facebook posts, class discussion boards… And, of course, the articles and training materials I edit. Meanwhile, my “to be read” book stack inhabits an entire shelf (plus some on the “psychology” shelf and a few Kindle app titles) and has done through the last several residence moves. I can’t remember the last time I lost myself in another world for fun. And not just because of studies, work, or any other activity; I just don’t read.
This can be partly excused by my undergrad program. There’s so much required reading for an English degree that one, somewhat ironically, loses the drive to read literature in one’s spare time. But it’s been several years since those undergrad classes ended. And then there’s EditorBrain, the mental functionality that makes me good at my freelance work but won’t even shut off for leisure reading and interrupts me to point out every goof that slips through publishing houses’ somewhat relaxed standards. (Not just typos; continuity errors and incorrect colloquialisms, to name a few.)
When I have tried to read in recent years, it’s been at a much slower pace than I remember and internal mental chatter distracts even in a quiet room. When I was in a book club a while back, we met once a month; if I was lucky, I’d finish the book before the next meeting, only to get there and find others had read that book and two or three others besides. I know people who bought a new book the same day I did and finished it by the time I hit Chapter 3. Given the pace I kept up at a younger age, I must have been a natural speed-reader at one time, but I’ve since lost that. Frustrating.
So, in the spirit of “back to school” season, I’m committing to getting back to reading. (Who says resolutions are only for New Year’s?) And I’m recruiting some psychological help – for at least the next week – in the form of HypnosisDownloads.com’s “Read More” and “Speed Reading” programs (the latter because I’d love to get my younger self’s reading rate back, if possible). I’m not going to keep charts or graphs or track page counts – this is supposed to be enjoyable, not more work – but I may occasionally post updates on my progress or a review of something I’ve read; the former might be more likely on Twitter and the latter would likely be of a psychology- or mental-health-related book, however.
Wish me luck! I’m off to grab something from that “to be read” shelf.