I’m going to confess a little problem I’m having with all of you.
I can’t read.
Of course, I’m literate. I’m physically and mentally capable of reading, I just….can’t.
If you’re frustrated with this lackluster explanation, join the club. I’ve been in love with books all my life, but it’s become a rather tumultuous relationship as of late. Since I was a kid, I loved the way books smelled, the way the covers crinkled in your hands. I would read my favorites over and over again, until the pages were so dog-eared and the covers so creased they ceased to lay flat when I finally had to set them down. I would attempt to walk and read simultaneously, and got scolded at least once a week for bringing books to the dinner table and propping them in front of my plate. You could always tell my most loved stories were the ones where the pages were most stained, or most stuck-together. When I outgrew blankets, and my favorite stuffed rabbits, books were my constant companion. I can say that, as is the case with so many other bibliophiles, they were a means of escape. When I couldn’t read them, I resorted to books on tape, which was akin to falling asleep while being read a bedtime story. I still do this, on occasion. When I got to college, my roommates could always tell when I was going through a difficult time, not necessarily because I divulged everything, but often because I became a voracious consumer of books. I grabbed anything I could off our communal bookshelf, and would plow through extensive novels in mere days. At times when I couldn’t cope with my own reality, the ones in print were so much more appealing.
Over the last few years, my books and I have grown apart, and it breaks my heart. I still adore them. I eagerly run to the local bookstore to stock up on the latest bestseller, or any novel that catches my eye, really. I’ll open them, cracking their spines just enough to satisfy, and then find myself reading the same two pages over and over again. This continuous loop drives me to pick up another book, thinking that maybe this one will be different, that it will pique my interest. I’ll repeat this pattern until I’ve reached a mound of books, all relatively new, stacked by my bedside. I find can blame a lot of things for this new, maddening ritual- the TV is always on, it’s drone keeping me company. This blog, and all the other blogs out there, make for quick reading anytime. My iPhone, with all its apps and news headlines available to read right at my fingertips. My paper friends just can’t keep up with my constantly buzzing mind. I can’t even sit still long enough to read them.It’s somewhat reassuring to share these feelings with other (actual) adults I know, because, more often than not, they feel the same way. It’s much easier to check out in front of Youtube than to engage yourself in any real way. I’ve acknowledged my problem, and I’ve decided that it’s time to do something about it.
I recently came across the idea of a “blackout” night, or rather, a night in which one shuts off all electronic devices for a set period of time, usually prior to bed. While I wouldn’t classify myself as a technology addict (I much prefer the company of people I’m in a room with than the social media on my phone), it has become quite the pervasive ritual in my life. I hope at some point this summer, when I’m not meddling about in the city, the studio, or the kitchen, I’ll find some time to turn everything off and read a really good book; the kind that teaches you something, or makes you feel something at the very least. Now that I’ve shared my plan with you, I’m going to have to stick to it, lest I feel like a complete dunce by the end of the summer. You can only watch so much trashy TV. Those books aren’t going to read themselves, you know.