Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rediscovering Reading

I doubt that there is a writer on the planet who didn't start out as a reader first.

By the time I was in the third grade, I had read all the "little kids" books in my school library and the local branch library. I lived for the monthly visit from the book-mobile from the main library to bring me new books I hadn't read yet.

By the fourth grade, I gave up on kids books altogether and started reading adult novels. My father had an entire basement full of books. I worked my way through them one by one. I read a lot of stuff that was inappropriate for a kid, but my dad insisted that challenging myself to read adult fiction was good for me despite the fact that I might read about sex and other stuff I wouldn't understand at that age anyway. He was right.

Before I got married, I spent more money on books than I did on clothes. When I packed for a vacation, I packed my books first and then fit the rest of my stuff into whatever space was left.

When my daughter was born and I quit working, I resolved to quit buying books and read exclusively from the library. From then until a few years ago, I went to the library every two weeks and checked out anywhere from five to nine books, and I read all of most of them. Today I went to the library to change my address on my library card. I discovered to my horror that my card expired so long ago, I wasn't even in the system any more. It has been probably five years since I've been to the library.

Part of that was because I discovered a thrift store that sold books for a pittance and I love to own my own books.  Because I was working again, I also started buying books on Mostly my lack of reading was due to the fact that for the last five years I spent so much of my time writing, I didn't take the time to read. Whatever the reasons, when someone like me stops cherishing their reading time, something is wrong. Even writers need to read.  Maybe writers need to read more than anybody.

This week I got a new library card and I checked out two new books. They are both debut novels by new authors.For one thing, I want to see what they have that I don't have. More than that, I want to dive into and luxuriate in other writers' stories for the first time in too long.

I am not sure how much writing I am going to get done in the near future. I have a lot of reading to catch up on!

What I'm seeking in my life now is balance. Instead of burying myself in writing fiction every spare moment of every day and neglecting to feed my spirit with other authors' work, I am going to try to work out a schedule that will accommodate both reading and writing.

Beginning now with my two new library books. I can't wait to get started.


  1. I hope you're able to find that balance! I'm the opposite way -- I'll spend every waking moment reading instead of writing, and I have to schedule myself writing time so that I don't get too lost in other worlds. It's so important to read, and and I hope you love, love, love the new reading time you give yourself! Balance is such a tricky thing to achieve... I think it'll be a lifelong process for me :)

  2. It most certainly is a life-long process because when you achieve balance where you are, then the world changes and you have to re-adjust! I'm trying to be gentle with myself and let myself lollygag away the summer. I have too much going on right now for disciplined writing time, so I'm taking a sabbatical from serious fiction writing until my daughter is safely away at college and I can control my own schedule once more.

    That means I give myself license to read as much as I want ... or to watch the Food Channel on TV if I want to. It's summertime at the beach. I'm going to make the most of it.

    Thanks for stopping by!