Monday, April 23, 2007
I don't get that. Admittedly, I read obsessively; even so, it befuddles me that so many people say to me (often after hearing I'm a librarian, or that I'm a writer), "I love books, but I just don't have time to read." They sigh wistfully, as though reading involved taking several days off from work and making complicated childcare arrangements. Really, it's just not that hard!
I guess it has to do with being committed. Reading, for me, is and always has been a way of life. I always have a book with me (two if I'm toward the end of one, just to avoid that terrible feeling of book panic), and when the opportunity presents itself, I read. I read in waiting rooms, on buses, in the kiss-and-ride line at my children's school, during meals (if I'm alone), you name it. These same people can, of course, tell me what happened last week during 24 and Lost, and American Idol (none of which, at the risk of scandalizing whoever reads this, I have ever actually seen). Not that I hate television or anything -- I just have better things to do. Like play with my kids, read to my kids, hang out with my husband, cook, write, knit, walk the dog...
Maybe people just don't find the right books for themselves. I give a book maybe 50 pages, and if we haven't clicked by then, I'm finished. There are too many great books out there for me to waste my time struggling through one I can't get into. When I'm in the middle of a good book, I can actually carry on conversations with other people (although I have no idea I'm doing this at the time) and tune out just about anything (and I often got in trouble for this as a child, having no recollection whatsoever that I'd promised to clean up my room or do the dishes). I've been reading and missed my bus stop, subway stop, and train station. If it's a good book, I'm in that world, and that's that. Maybe these wistful non-readers haven't had the chance to find the books that really grab them. They have struggled with too many dull books and have just given up. That's a depressing thought.
At any rate, I was thinking about these things today when I was having lunch (good food and a good book - my favorite!), and all around me were people eating alone, just staring off into space, clearly not enjoying themselves very much. That brought to mind people I see on the subway, just sitting there looking tired and bored. Why don't these people grab a book? Try something new? I want to carry books around and distribute them to people. I guess that's why I like Bookcrossing so much. I leave lots of books on public transportation, but usually I never find out what happens to them.