I have always loved reading.
When I was younger, I had a habit of reading multiple books at once. I think I was a bit lonely and bored, and why just have one friend to hang out with, when you could have a multitude of friends at your beck and call? My mom tells me from time to time that I would fall asleep at night with my books up at the head of the bead, and by the time I would wake up, all the books would be crammed between the footboard, my blanket, and the bed. (I kick and thrash a lot in my sleep.) When I would finish a book, I would march to my parents’ rooms and dramatically slap the book closed, announcing, “I’m finished!” There was such a sense of accomplishment when I could show to my parents the spoils of my conquests — the closed, curled-cover books that I often present to them on their beds, or on their desks. Ha! Another book down, and plenty more, infinitely more books that could fall to my rule. I would carry books in my backpack through out my days at school to read when I found the time and concentration. My mom would have to tell me on school nights not to get too wrapped up in my reading. “Can I just finish the chapter I’m reading and then I’ll start my homework?” I would barter with my mom about how much I could read. She loved that I loved reading, but that love should not cause me to do badly in school.
My love of reading contrasts to my brother’s absence of love. He can read entire books, if he tried, in a day or in hours. But he admits to not enjoy reading all that much, with the exception of the Harry Potter series (one of the best books of all time, in his opinion). He doesn’t really read unless he absolutely wants to or has to. But when he does, woosh! Finished in one fell swoop. I’ve always been a bit jealous because I wanted to be a speed reader. It’s only recently that I have been able to finish books a lot quicker. For the longest time, reading long books was a bit of a challenge for me. I would certainly be able to finish a long book, no problem, but I was a bit self-conscious about my pace. When compared to my brother, I was dragging my feet along the ground as I moved forward in the book, where as he could sprint and be finished in no time, and be able to shout back at me, “Wow, Hannah, you’re the slowest reader ever!” Especially when the Harry Potter books would come out, he would mock me for not finishing it within a day of our receiving it.
Since then, my speed has certainly picked up, but even if I’m really trying (while also not taking too much time away from doing my homework), I still take a few days to finish a book. But I’m okay with that. So what if I’m not plowing through? I’m soaking in every word of the book. I carefully craft the worlds the books describe so I can enjoy the cinematic display, so I can feel the emotions the author and the characters intend for me to feel. And together, the book and I have created a wonderful friendship, and who wants something so wonderful to end quicker than it has to?
As my time as a student gets shorter and shorter, I realize that I will be able to read more as an adult! Reading! When I want! I want to read on public transportation, when I get home from whatever job I have in the future, maybe even read while on the job, depending on what I do. I look forward to the days when I can just read and read and read and read, all while still having a social life. (I can’t be a complete hermit.) My dad routinely tells me at home that I should get rid of some of the books that I keep on my bookshelf — “it’s too cluttered,” he says. But Dad, this is going to be my personal library where I live on my own! You can’t tell me to get rid of them. When I see pictures of bedroom setups randomly on the internet, where the bookshelves and the bed are intertwined or so close together, I cannot help but feel envious and proclaim that I will live like this. Once again safely nestled between stacks of books.
(The quotation in the title of the post is from R. D. Cumming.)