Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Soporific or stimulant?

"I just get sleepy when I read," said Richard Bustos of Dallas. Ack! I'm kvetching over the poll that says one in four adults have read NO, none, zero, nada books in the past year. I am flabbergasted. How can the rest of the world not live like I do? Books are air. I couldn't do without reading any more than I can dispense with breathing. Books are manna. I suck them down whole, in huge bites.

There is a wonderful Prelutsky poem that we used to read to Jonathan quite regularly (and is now hanging on our living room wall) that sums up my reading life:

Books to the Ceiling
Books to the Sky
My piles of books are a mile high
How I love them
How I need them
I'll have a long beard
By the time I read them.

Of course, these days my pile is no squalid bedside tower. It's a cyberlist. Our wonderful and indispensable library takes online requests. So I have about 1,415,269 requests currently awaiting fulfillment, bringing me fun and provocation and respite in book-sized proportions on an almost daily basis.

Anyway, I wax rhapsodic because I am always amazed and saddened when the rest of the world doesn't do things the way I do--it is all about me, you know. ;-) But, truly, how much they miss (to paraphrase Anne Shirley), those non-readers. I know, you're all busy. Working, parenting, keeping up with the Jones, vacationing.

But I also know what you're doing instead. You're watching tv or gamboling around on the internet. No, don't try to deny it. I know you. I live with you. You don't have time to read because you are too busy watching reruns of "Frasier" while reading sports gossip online. You don't have time to read because you are deeply involved in who is the next American idol and hitting redial as you vote and vote.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. :-) I like "Frasier". I voted for Taylor Hicks over Katharine McPhee (dumb, I know). I litter my writing with coy references to tv and pop culture. Not that there's anything wrong with that . . . .

But those fun things, that I definitely enjoy. They don't feed my soul like reading does. And I'm not talking about hard reading, non-fictional tomes that analyze the world. Even mysteries, to which I proudly claim an addiction, touch my heart, make me think, lead me to ponder and star gaze. Books feed wonder. They make me imagine worlds, force me to participate in the story. Encourage gazing, not glazing.

Best book this month? "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Best mystery this month? "Detective Inspector Huss" by Helene Tursten (I'm on a Scandinavian kick right now).

Get a life--or lose yours for a bit. Read a book. :-)



Blogger Suna said...

Hmm, I have read a lot of books this year, but mostly knitting books and horridly boring computer manuals and books on "Six Sigma." I am saving the most wonderful book ever for when I can sit and read it cover to cover (I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter).

But I am not watching a lot of television (last night we listened to music all night until the Revered Hallowed Hour of Daily Show/Colbert Report). I do read a lot of blogs--I get great comfort and many interesting insights from the writings of everyday people like me.

And for me, knitting is the Great Comforter. I need both reading and knitting to survive. My eyes ache when I have no reading material and my hands pine away with no fiber to touch. Pretty much every moment I am not typing or reading, I am knitting.

One reader's habits, in a nutshell. Oh yeah, and I write. A lot. Nice to be able to type as fast as you think!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Ron Franscell said...

Americans' reading habits are just more evidence of our laziness, which seems to grow boundlessly. We prefer the simple, passive processes of information consumption, and are willing to sacrifice a little bit of imagination for the convenience. Our much-vaunted American obesity isn't just physical, but it's apparently intellectual and spiritual, too. I blogged on this one, too.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Liz T-G said...

Had to google "six sigma". :-) Yes, I enjoy blog reading as well. Many great people writing out there that I can learn from.

Interesting thoughts about knitting. I still haven't gotten to that comfort place with it, though I do enjoy it. I think I'm cowed by knitters like you who are so proficient, rather than simply enjoying the kind of knitting I can do.

As to typing as fast as I think, I sometimes find myself airtyping while thinking, odd soul that I am. :-)Good to hear from you, Suna.

1:02 PM  

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