As soon as I first understood that noun + verb = sentence, I became a voracious reader. By the time I was a teenager, I was binging on at least a novel or three per week. I remember absorbing Ross Lockridge Jr.’s massive American epic Raintree County in three days. (Stirring and wildly romantic, it’s a must-read in my book.) Digging through my parent’s basement one day, I unearthed a wonderful treasure: a box stuffed with paperback versions of pulp fiction and literary classics from the likes of Faulkner, Orwell, Hemingway and many others. Published in the 1950s, they featured lurid covers that immediately fascinated me. I read every one of them.
But even though my parents had lots of books around, including bookshelves full of hardcover fiction and non-fiction in my father’s study, I never saw them actually pick up a book and read it themselves. They read the newspaper and magazines, but never books, at least in my presence.
That bothered me. My parents were highly educated people. They must have read books at one time. Why didn’t they do it anymore? I never asked them. I just continued my solitary pursuit of devouring one book after another.
Then something happened. I had children. All of a sudden, life revolved around diapers and spit up. I still read to my children every day. (I must have read Jamberry to my older daughter a thousand times.) But reading for myself fell by the wayside. If I had a few moments to breathe, I would turn on the television. It was so much easier to disengage with TV than engage in a book.
But my oldest daughter picked up the habit I had lost. We read through Nancy Drew and American Girl books together, and then she started reading them on her own. Everywhere I looked, there were piles of books. I bought her a Nook and soon I was downloading e-books for her right and left. I was proud of what a great reader she had become.
But I didn’t feel so proud of myself. What kind of role model was I ? If she didn’t see me reading just for fun, would she lose the habit, just like my parents and i did?
About five years ago, I began to consciously strive to read more. I’m no longer a binge reader, but I feel good that when my kids come downstairs in the evening before bed, they often find me curled up, not with the TV, but with a good book.
I’ve visited many, many book blogs lately as I request advance reviews for Goddess. I’m envious of how many books these bloggers read. Maybe someday, I’ll be binging again too. But for now, I’m happy to to take life one book at a time.