It has recently come to my attention that my reading habits are shockingly poor: simply riddled with snobbery, laziness, and a general absent-minded thoughtlessness that makes it hard to remember what I’ve read and when I’ve read it. Before, I’d always considered myself a bookworm, but really, if I was a bookworm I would have starved to death long ago.
Growing up, I was a grumpy, stuck-up little reader. I thought a lot about whether or not a book looked sophisticated, whether or not it was popular with the masses, and whether or not it was educational somehow. I was fond of judging books by the cover, by the jacket description, by the amount of romantical silliness I believed I could somehow sense within the pages. It seemed so terribly adult to dismiss a book after a paragraph or two because Oh, I never like a book in first person or I could never enjoy something if everyone else is enjoying it or, I can’t see myself identifying with the main character: she thinks too much about boys. Or, most often, the writing just isn’t good enough – I want to have my breath swooshed right out of me.
This sort of behavior was rather like a small child refusing to try any new dishes, or a youth rejecting potential dates before they’d even shown interest. It’s behavior that keeps a person from discovering new favorite foods, or making new friends. It’s behavior that kept me from reading anything but the books I already knew I loved. And these were good books, even great books, but I made a habit of never giving any other book a chance, and habits can be hard to break.
I’ve been trying to retrain myself as a reader for some time now – ever since graduating college and springboarding back into a world where I could read whatever I wanted without having to write an essay about the experience. And I’ve realized just how behind I am – how many good books exist, and how many I haven’t read yet. I go into the library, or the bookstore, and think, “This! I want to read this! And this! And this! AND THIS!”
It’s overwhelming, and wonderful, and it also makes me a little sad, to think of all the stories I could have been absorbing if I hadn’t been rereading my favorite encyclopedia articles.
Although, those encyclopedia articles were pretty great. And they taught me things when I was supposed to be learning things, which worked out nicely. I’m behind, yes – but I read fast. I won’t catch up, but . . . I can read so many books while trying.
So, here’s to being a little less grumpy, and giving a few more books a chance to be enjoyed. Here is a book I never would have found or given a chance if I had stumbled across it back in my hometown library:
*shakes head at past self*
Ah, well. Back to books, back to reading, back to catching up.