“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
The first thing I do when I handle a new book is open it up and take a whiff of the smell. I love the smell of ink on paper, along with the binding and glue of the book… Some will smell better than others, but the breath of a nose stuck in a book is never a breath wasted.
I was lucky to grow up in a house with a library. A very large one. We had so many books, it was a genuine collection; one that I loved to contribute to. I would always buy a book or two along with a cute kitten poster from the school book fairs; my parents would let me order a whole slew of books from the scholastic book clubs; and while others wanted to shop in the music and electronics shops or the sports section, I would choose the small bookstore (called the “Bookmark”) any time I had money to spare. What’s an allowance for, if not to spend on my next book to read?
I remember the beloved “book it” program at my elementary school. Read a book and then illustrate what was read. After earning a set amount of stars, the reader would win a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. I would read a book a week. Every Friday I would turn in my illustration, and I would receive a star sticker on my book it button. That’s…. no doubt what trained me to read so many books.
In school, I would spend my recesses or bus rides reading. My reading habits weren’t appreciated by my best friend, who threatened to steal my book and keep it for the rest of the day if I didn’t put it away and hang out with him instead.
As a teenager, I had a calendar that I recorded all the names of the books that I read. My calendar was filled with book titles, sometimes months holding 10 or 12 titles, one right after another where I read the book in a span of 2 day’s time.
Unfortunately, growing up hasn’t been good to my bookworm tendencies. And now I miss the times when I could read 13 books a month. My time is spent hard, running my own business and managing my life. It seems to me that I don’t really have the chance to read anymore. I have a rather large lineup of books, piled on my nightstand or tucked under my pillow or hidden in a spot to remind me to read… sometimes I even catch myself carrying a book around, partially out of habit and partially wishful thinking.
If it were just my lack of time then I’d fix the problem easily. I could fit a few moments before bed to read a page or two. But it seems more complicated than that. My diagnosis is much more severe.
I open a book to read it, flip to the first page, and my eyes skim the first line, the second, the third and fourth. Upon stopping to process the first lines of the book, I realize that my brain is completely blank, void of the information that it failed to retain.
I try again, and a third time. I even smell the pages to try to entice my thoughts into a frame of mind for the book, but to no avail. My brain no longer focuses on reading a book. I would try to listen to an audio book, but if my brain isn’t actively involved in the story, either by problem-solving or inventing or reasoning out a solution or searching for answers to something, then I cannot focus on the story at hand. No matter how hard I try, I cannot focus on reading my book.