A friend asked for book recommendations recently, which got me thinking about how I read. I read fast, skip stuff, escape, and let my imagination soar.
I Read Fast
I read fast. I can finish a short book under 300 pages in twenty-four hours or less.
I gobble books. I inhale books. I run through them, rollerblade through them, jet ski through them, race car drive through them. Pick your metaphor – it’s fast.
I Skip Stuff
I’m interested in what happens and am invested in the story. If it boring, I’m gonna skip paragraphs of descriptions and dialogue.
I’ve only started to read to better understand story structure recently – like in the last couple of years. And I know that all of the words combine to make a better whole. But man, some of that whole can be boring and I’m skipping it.
I Don’t Do Book Clubs
I’m not reading for a detailed analysis of character motivations. Rarely do I finish a book and think, “now how does that apply to my life.” Nope, I gobble books and move on to the next.
I’m mystified at the book club questions at the end of books. I tried participating in that book club app, Fable, and was lost. Unusual for me because I’m good with technology. But all those deep thoughts (and mostly not so deep thoughts) were overwhelming.
Yes, of course, books impact me. But I don’t contemplate them at length the way book club questions seem to suggest.
I Quiet My Mind
So I have a chatty, obsessive inner monologue. It notices details, criticizes, repeats song lyrics, babbles, and accompanies me throughout the day. Reading (like meditating, writing, and other focused activities) quiets that never-ending chatter.
The noise doesn’t completely stop, but it’s significantly quieter and that’s a relief. And if you don’t have an inner monologue, I don’t even know what to say.
I Let My Imagination Soar
Along with quieting my mind, reading activates my imaginative skills. I escape into a world where dragons and magic are real, where people take risky chances that I wouldn’t dare take. I literally feel the breeze, the fear, the achievement.
I also see a moving picture of it all in my head. These are clear pictures usually with foggy edges. That’s why I have always loved meditations that ask you to visualize . They’re like private movies inside my head filled with color and light and movement.
If the visualization starts with walking on a forest path, I’m virtually doing that. I hear the leaves crunch under my feet, feel the coolness of the canopy cover, and watch the path ahead to see what’s next.
That’s also what happens when I read a book. If the main character is meeting her dragon for the first time, I’m meeting the dragon, too. And they’re big and scary, let me tell you.
Because I would rather read than almost anything else, my house isn’t perfectly clean and neat. When I read for two or three hours straight, the world stops.
That means that housework absolutely stops, worry about mundane day-to-day tasks stops..
All that immersion is an escape from the world. I’m held in the now by the action in the book. And then I look up two hours later and realize I have no idea what I’ll be eating for dinner.
I Read Books
Period, with no question mark. It’s the tactile sensation, the smell, the ownership. Yes, I read eBooks. But gosh darn it all, I love the feel and weight and smell of a book in my hands.
Of course I read eBooks and especially like them for travel when an airplane is involved. Airplanes mean limited luggage, which means being selective about what you’re bringing. I almost always have a small physical book and an iPad loaded with at least one or two additional.
I used to like listening to books on tape on the way to work, on a long journey, or during lunch hour. These days I work from home so there’s no commute other than from the kitchen to the office. There’s no real lunch hour, and I haven’t gone on a long, driving journey in a few years.
I Own Books
There’s something about the ownership of books, too. Something that has passed down through time.
There was a time in the past where books didn’t exist, and a time when owning a book was a treasure. There was a time when being a woman and owning a book or gathering knowledge was a crime. Having a house full of books is a treat, an obsession, and a delight.
So yeah, books, I love them. I read them. How about you?