Monday, December 24, 2007

On Books and Me

While bloghopping this morning, I came upon a post at BiblioHistoria reflecting on a New York Times article which talks about how, at one time, reading was perceived to be lazy and unhealthy. I saw a lot of myself in her post, so instead of leaving a ridiculously long comment, I wrote a whole ridiculously long post of my own! (It's been awhile since the last blogly novella, hasn't it?)

I think it's quite ridiculous that reading was once equated with laziness. I have been told that I watch TV too much or I'm on the computer too much, implying laziness, and I've been inclined to agree that there is some laziness in those pursuits, but not always, especially when it comes the computer. However, in my life, reading has been anything but lazy. I've been told that I "read too much" but never in the sense that that made me lazy, perhaps only anti-social. I'm the person that sits in the living room while my parents watch TV and reads. I love to be around my family, but I'd much rather have my face in a book or a magazine or a newspaper than be staring mindlessly at the screen. To me, that's lazy. Hmm...makes you wonder if there will come a time when people will look back on us now and wonder at us thinking that watching TV is lazy!

I've been a book worm from a young age. My mom says that as a youngster I once asked her, "How do you learn to read?" She claims to have replied something like, "Well, you just have to practice." So I went and got all of my books and stacked them up on the floor and began to "practice." Stacks of books have surrounded me ever since. I used to have a bunch of books and now, having discovered the wonder of the library used book sale, I have tons and tons.

They say that when you give gifts, you give the types of things that you would like to receive. I think it's true! Every year, try though I might, I can't seem to resist buying the people that mean the most to me books. This year is no different. My parents both just read The Kite Runner so I picked them up a copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns. My mom is a huge fan of Jan Karon's Mitford series, so I picked up Karon's latest book, Home to Holly Springs for her. My dad loves a good mystery/thriller by Dean Koontz and, more recently, Dan Brown, so it's Angels and Demons for him. My pets, always astute in giving my mother presents (by way of me, of course) chose a hilarious copy of The Dangerous Book for Dogs to enlighten my mom to all their mischievious secrets. That's this year, alone. I love love love to unwrap a book on Christmas day or a gift certificate to get more books and often preferred them to toys or even the electronic gadgets that people of my age seem to covet so much - not that I don't like my gadgets, but not as much as my books. I'm sure my aunt had a hand in nurturing that love for books as gifts, as she always went out of her way to give me beautiful picture books when I was young that I really treasured.

Some of my best memories are book related. I would hardly say that staying up deep into the night reading is lazy. Sometimes I'd sneak out to the edge of my room after bedtime to huddle in the doorway reading by the hallway light until my parents would come chase me back to bed. When I was a little older and permitted to read whatever suited me, being completely absorbed into Stephen King's or John Grisham's page turners long after I should have been asleep could hardly be considered lazy, right? Even now, my reading tastes are little more serious and my reading itself is a little more serious, but I love to fall into the more realistic literary fiction and find that it taps into some of my deepest feelings and longings while also learning new words for my vocabulary and new things about the world far outside my front door. I love to know these things and to share them with the people around me, and doing that, I can tell you for certain, is no lazy pursuit.


  1. What a great post! I don't think reading a lot is a lazy activity either. Sure, the body may not be getting the activity it needs while you sit or lay there with book in hand, but the mind sure does. And the physical stuff can come at other times--maybe even while listening to an audio book. Haha

  2. I really enjoyed your thoughts. What you described is what so many of us have in common and, I think, it's why we all love book blogs. We've finally found a whole community of people just like us, people who "get it" when we get excited about a new book or author, people who don't think we're strange because we prefer a good book over the usual television fare, people who understand our language. What a great community it is...Merry Christmas to all.

  3. Pshaw. No such thing as reading too much. Like the literary feline says, it's exercise for the brain, among other things (imagination, creativity...).

    Next time someone tells you that you read too much, smile secretly and say, "Thank you."

    Maybe they'll pick up a book and figure out the truth.

  4. LF, I love exercising my brain! I always feel dull after having watched even a little TV, but invigorated after finishing even the longest book, so even if I'm not exercising my body quite enough, at least I'm doing something for my mind! =)

    Sam, even though I'm still kind of new at this book blogging thing, I've loved getting to know this community of book lovers. Most of my favorite people on the internet I've met as a result of my (and their!) love of books. It's good to know that there are so many people out there that share this passion for reading, and everybody's so nice, too. Is there some study out there that says if you really love books you're consequently a nicer person? ;-)

    Susan, it's so true that being told I read too much is, in truth, a compliment! Some people are really missing out on a great thing!

  5. I can understand why reading could be considered lazy...esp in the nineteenth century vs. things like needlework!

    However, I don't think I've ever been called lazy for reading...and I'd probably slap anyone who tried. ;)

  6. Yes, what a great post. Your blog is a pleasure to read too. If this be laziness then I'm all for it. I intend to be reading and learning and pondering on my deathbed!