Hi dear readers! I'm not going to discuss what I'm reading today. I'm going to discuss reading period. There has been much in the news of late about the demise of reading. Do our children (or in my case - grandchildren) read enough or at all? Is the world of books collapsing? Is reading just too much when other things are so fresh and exciting? I'm not talking about the death of story telling - that will never happen. We are a story-making species and will continue to make stories until we are out of breath.
But story telling happens in many ways - through plays, long poems, television series, movies, ballads, opera, dance and, as we now know, in games.
Reading can be private or in community. I love nothing so much as when me and the sweet-patootie and the step-dot are all sitting companionably in the living room, reading our respective books, stopping from time to time to share exquisite details. That is my idea of heaven -especially if there is chocolate involved. When my kids were young, I would read to them every night, as my father did for me and my siblings. When my step-children were younger, their father (S-P) would read to them and I would make myself inconspicuous but present, so as to hear his lovely voice read from books that never grow old.
For most of my life I have read before bed-time. Until the S-P actually - who I hooked up with when I was fifty. Sometimes I still read before bed - like last night when I was just at an exciting bit and absolutely couldn't put it down until I'd finished. But since he and I have cohabited, he brings me coffee in the morning and I do a good bulk of my reading then. I also read in the tub - unlike my pal, the Tartlette, I cannot write in the tub, but I can read until the water is too cold to bear (bare?)
I was talking about education with S-P the other day and telling him that I tried to quit school in Grade One. For I had already learned to read and I knew that they had little else to offer me. I still believe I was correct and if they'd just left me in a room with a whack of books I would've been as far ahead as I am now. But alas alack, I had to put up with the idiocy of school for another 12 years - then a certain falling out while I had a baby or two and then back at it - to get an honours degree in English Literature. University was so unlike public school that it took my breath away. I could sit in the university library for hours, days even, wandering through the stacks, letting my intuition take me from one lovely idea to another.
Reading is so crucial to my well-being that when I read about those who don't read - either because of some failing in their upbringing, a problem with how they read, or a culture (like the ones I wrote about last time with Margaret Mead's books on Samoa etc...) I feel such a panicky feeling. What if I didn't read? What would I do? I think of all the time my dog has to lie around all day and feel such compassion for him, not being able to take the edge of with a good book - like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin. Or maybe he would be an avid reader of Joyce Carey, or Dickens!
I haven't gotten an e-reader yet and don't know if I will. I thought I wanted one for awhile but every time I've tried one I get all messed up with losing my place. I might be too dull to read one of those things. Then a friend lends me a book or I go to the library and get a pile of them out or my birthday comes up and a stack appears just before Christmas break - ah...the luxury. I wouldn't give up reading for anything. In fact, and this is true I suddenly realize, as I write this, I would give up writing before reading. Yep.
How about you?