O Bookworm, Where Art Thou?

Yesterday, September 6, was apparently Read a Book Day (or so I was informed by a ThinkGeek email).

My Books

So much to read… (Photo credit: Jennerally)

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.


About Rebekah

Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT) Registered Intern (IMF 75650). Editor. Student of hypnosis. Geek. Straight ally. Not necessarily in that order.

Posted on Friday 7 September 2012, in Flotsam, Hypnosis and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Yay! *gets all excited & claps ‘n stuff* I totally know how you feel!!

    When I was a child, I wasn’t quite as voracious a reader as you’ve described your younger self, but I do remember thoroughly enjoying reading. From ages nine through eleven, I loved reading. A Wrinkle In Time. Little Women. Anne of Green Gables. Little House on the Prairie. The Secret Garden. I loved these stories!

    But, then I remember getting a little lost and not being able to find books I enjoyed, as I moved into my teen years. I read some V.C. Andrews but they were kind of odd. Nothing seemed to click, and I lost that passionate love of finding myself immersed in a good book.

    During the past two years, I’ve tried to get myself back into the habit of reading hoping it would ignite an inextinguishable fire. Unfortunately, that has yet to happen (depression and lack of focus get in my way), but I have read a few good books.

    I made a list based on one of those Top 100 books you’ve got to read before you die. So far I’ve crossed off The Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns, Slammerkin, 1984, The Grapes of Wrath, River Cross My Heart, and The Handmaid’s Tale.

    I started reading The Phantom Tollbooth and liked it a lot, but I had to return it to the library (need to recheck it out!). I also started reading The Sound & The Fury -I didn’t understand a word of it! I have enough trouble keeping my own thoughts all in row without trying to figure out that stream-of-consciousness style of writing! It really frustrated me that I couldn’t read it. I might have to try again. Another book that drove me half nuts was The Catcher in the Rye. I read a good amount of the book, but I couldn’t stand the way it was written.

    I’m reading the Secret Life of Bees now… or I’ve been reading it. I actually own that book, so it tends to sit where I last leave it for months at a time. Even though I am enjoying it. *need to read some tonight… or in the morning…*

    You wrote about speed reading. Recently, my dad came across this kind of cool thing called photo reading. The idea behind it is you use your whole mind to read. First, you quickly go through a book essentially using your mind to take a snapshot of the page, then you go back and speed read it. But when you’re first going through it, you don’t focus your eyes on the text. You look past the text or like you’re looking through the book. It’s kind of like those pictures back in the 90’s that you had to try to see pictures within those brightly colored images of nothing. I don’t know if it works, but it’s a neat idea.

    Anyway, definitely rooting for you to read lots of awesome books!! I’d love to know what you read… the fun stuff… 🙂 If you have any recommendations for me, that would be great too.

    Take care,

    • Hi, thanks for commenting! And thanks for the rooting. 😀

      I hope you get a chance to finish The Phantom Tollbooth – that was a favorite of mine years ago. If you like that kind of fun, surreal-ish fantasy, you might get a kick out of Douglas Adams’s work (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy five-book “trilogy” and the two Dirk Gently books), if you haven’t read them. And if you don’t like stream-of-consciousness (I’m not a fan, either), I do not recommend As I Lay Dying; not only stream-of-consciousness, but multiple points-of-view. Actually, the only multiple POV book I remember enjoying (and loving!) was Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy novel Elantris; he does a steady rotation between three characters (one chapter per) and it gets interesting seeing the situations through each of their eyes, especially as the stories start to intertwine more and more.

      Your list sounds like an interesting project! Personally, I have mixed feelings about those kinds of Top 100 lists; recommendations from friends are fine for me, but the idea of some stranger(s) dictating “you must read these before you die”… Put it this way: I’ve read many “classics”, including ones like The Grapes of Wrath and Dracula, and often don’t think much of them. They don’t appeal to my personal tastes (e.g. in story or writing style) or the plotting isn’t that great or whatever. But I’m grateful to many of them for the followers they inspired!

      You mentioned books like The Secret Garden and Madeline L’Engle’s novels. One of my favorite things to do, no matter my age, is wander through the children’s section of bookstores, visiting with old friends and finding new ones. I find that many “kids” books these days are more interesting and just as – if not more – well-written and complex as the “grown-up” tomes. No matter how old I get, I will never apologize for reading what I enjoy, even if it comes from the “wrong” section of the store. 😉 Something to think about…

      • 🙂 I like corresponding about books, but I don’t do it often. I actually like talking *about* books more than discussing the specific nuances of the stories *in* the books (go figure). I guess this is because I tend to have a hard time remembering details even when I just read the book! I could never do the book club thing. But this is fun.

        I will definitely finish The Phantom Tollbooth. I adored the word play in the book. And, my inner littles liked the story. I like reading children’s & young adult books too. Because of my DID, I have inner littles who like a variety of different topics & types of books. I’m not sure about the other inners? I hadn’t given it much thought. I started reading a book about dragons… let me see if I can google & figure out the title… found it —> Dealing with Dragons: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Book One. My inner little, L, was enjoying it, but like the Tollbooth I didn’t finish before it was due.

        I’m in the middle of rereading The Railway Children. It’s such a preciously written story. I stopped rereading it a while back. I think I got a little spooked because I know I read the book before, but I couldn’t remember ANY of the story! I mean, once I read it, it seemed familiar, but I couldn’t tell you what happens next at all. I can remember most of the main bits ‘n pieces from other books I read when I was a kid. I should reread some of those.

        I have heard of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It sounds fun being a science fiction “comedy.” You know I’m not really sure how I feel about science fiction. I read a few Sci Fi books when I was younger and enjoyed them. I’d probably like them. I’m guessing I’d gravitate toward Sci Fi books with people I can relate to experiencing out-there kind of stuff rather than Lord of the Rings kind of books. I’ve never read or even watched the Lord of the Rings books/movies. I never read Harry Potter either, but I did watch most of the movies at a friend’s once. I likely would’ve loved them as a kid! Will look for the Dirk & Diane books at the library soon 🙂

        I think the genre has always been overshadowed for me by my interest in stories that present some real way of life that I’m not personally acquainted with like pioneer life (when I was a kid). I actually enjoyed reading The Grapes of Wrath! Though the ending was a bit ick. But what I enjoyed so much was learning a bit more about the Depression era and the Dust Bowl. Perhaps because I read it so close to our own Great Recession and there are so many parallels. Except, now we have so many social safety nets. I tend to end up googling the time period and reading more about a period or place or person. I suppose I’m kind of a sucker for coming-of-age books… not the lovely-dovey kind. Maybe coming-of-age isn’t the right term.

        LOL You’ve likely read most of the books on most of the Top 100 lists with the degree you earned! I only picked about 20 that sounded like something I’d enjoy. I’m not into painfully forcing myself to read a book (like The Sound & The Fury) just because someone thinks I ought to. (Yeah, staying away from those scary stream-of-consciousness. I would like to give Elantris a try. Knowing when the perspective changes will be helpful!) The lists are a place to start.

        I best go. Very nice chatting about books w/ you. I’m back to reading The Secret Life of Bees! See… you inspired me to pick it back up!

        Take care,

    • Oh, hey; I thought of another great author, if you like stories of wizards mixed with some science. Diane Duane has a Young Wizards series that predates that Potter upstart. 😉 And her wizards still have to live in the real world while using their abilities to hold off entropy. It’s a series I’ve loved for around 20 years. Starts with So You Want to be a Wizard.

  1. Pingback: World Mental Health Day 2012…ish « Somewhere in Mind

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