A new blogger acquaintance of mine wrote a post recently about her addiction to books. It was an hilarious post about returning a book through the book drop at the library that she really didn't mean to return. In fact, she was relishing the book and now it had been prematurely returned. Her absolute panic when she realized what she had done convinced her that she was, in fact, dealing with an addiction.
Not to take addition lightly, but I must admit that I have a similar relationship with reading. I LOVE to read. When all else fails, I know that I can crawl into a book and my world is good. I grew up in a family of readers. Among other things, we read novels, non-fiction books, magazines, cereal boxes, the encyclopedia (really!), maps, and two daily newspapers. During the summer months we walked to the County library but that trek and the library visiting time took a good two hours - not enough time to make the trek after school during the school year and the library was not open on weekends. During the school year we read school books and occasional books that were found in the weak classroom libraries. We also re-read old favorites over and over again.
As an elementary school child, I was introduced to classics and thrived on them. Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain were two authors with great appeal but so were the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Cherry Ames, Student Nurse. I was especially fond of mysteries, biographies and realistic fiction. I was decidedly NOT enamored with anything in the science fiction or talking animal realm. Not then, not now.
In high school I met Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Stephen Crane and so many more authors. There were very few that did not capture my attention. I also got a job in the county library system as an appropriately named page. Primarily I was responsible for re-shelving books, some check out work and lots of "shelf reading"- a process wherein every shelf was routinely checked for errors in alphabetization and placement of books. The work was boring EXCEPT I got to see every new book that came into the library and I got to check out as many as I wanted.
In college I got to work at the "general supplies" counter in the student book store. It was the best job for two reasons: access to all those books to read on my breaks and access to all the cute college men who needed to go to the bookstore for supplies. My major in college wasn't English but I was always taking some English class or another , just for fun. I favored contemporary fiction and met the more current crop of authors: Norman Mailer, Ford Maddox Ford, Joan Didion, Adrienne Rich, Erica Jong, Joseph Heller and others.
For some reason, after college I never went back to the classics. I still favor a blend of fiction and non fiction but my fiction pretty much is contemporary American authors. Maybe I am closed minded but maybe it is also my own way of narrowing down the selection. There is only so much time and there are so many books. Sadly a real part of my relationship to books is the book review. Just about the first place I go on my daily sites is the book review section of NPR, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, NY Times, Goodreads, Millions and more. I read the reviews and then go check them out at Amazon and see what the common people say about them.
The thing is, I end up with more books to read on my "to read' list than I will ever have time to read. I need to ask all the readers out there, how do you do that? How do you read a book or more a week? I can and I do accomplish that in the summer time but not in the work season. My problem is that besides reading, I like to write and to paint and to ride my bicycle and walk the dogs and even sometimes work in the yard. Books scream at me all the time and I shush them by carrying them from the bedroom to the living room and back. If I just stopped reading those reviews I could probably catch up to myself ....