September 8th, 2003

happyfindus

READING

I just filled out an online survey about "What Reading Means To Me" and realized that it was a harder question to answer than I was expecting. I thought it would be easy, but find that putting my feelings about books and reading into words isn't so simple. How has the way I read changed over time? How has it impacted my life? What do I get from reading that I can't get anywhere else?

I love the weight and feel and smell of books themselves. I'm fascinated by binding, paper, typefaces, bookplates, libraries and bookstores. I worked in a bookstore after college for about 4 months and it was like Christmas every day, opening those big boxes of brand new paperbacks. I always thought I'd love to own a bookstore, but then realized that the owner of a business can't spend her days reading behind the counter when she has to be worried about the bottom line. I suppose I'd be happiest living IN a library or a bookstore, but I'm not quiet enough. Although I'm sure Anders would argue that I've turned our house INTO a library, so I hardly have room to complain. We have bookshelves in every room but the bathroom, and I need more. (more! moooooooooore!!)

I've been reading since I can remember and can still remember the first time in the military BX bookstore in Belgium when I was 13 and discovered sci-fi/fantasy when I picked up Piers Anthony's A Spell For Chameleon and it changed my life. I don't read exclusively sci-fi/fantasy although it makes up a large section of my library and is easily my biggest love. I have a huge collection of children's and young adults books as well, and regularly re-read old favorites. There are some books I've read more than a dozen times, simply because I love being lost in them. I read REALLY fast :) It's hard for me to not finish a book I've started, even when I'm having a REALLY hard time getting into it. I peek at endings occasionally, but that doesn't stop me.

My "books to buy" list is 5 pages of small print, single-spaced books divided by category, but I've never actually done a wish list on amazon.com, more the fool I.

Reading takes me out of myself, deposits me on other worlds, in other times, in other's lives and brings me, gasping with wonder, or still with contemplation, or glaring with anger, or smiling with joy, back. I have a quote written down somewhere in one of my notebooks by Julian Barnes, that says something to the effect of: "Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are never your own." There's more to it than that, but that's the gist, and I'm at work, so I can't look it up at the moment.
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    Joe Jackson—Steppin' Out