I like to read. I LOVE to read. I didn’t always like to read. When I was a kid I disliked it. I only read when I had to. Granted, when I did have to I usually enjoyed whatever it was that I was told to read. But I still didn’t like reading. I think it was one of those things that if you’re not good at it right away and everyone else picks it up quicker (or seemingly so) than you, then you shun it and decide in advance that it is no fun anyway. (Well, I do that…don’t know if anyone else does.) I did this as a kid with things. If I wasn’t immediately good (extremely good) at something or if something didn’t come easily right away for me, then I decided it wasn’t for me…not something I liked.
Reading was one of those things. I was put in the “smart” group very early on in school. All schools do this. They do that color-coded reading “group” thing and make it seem like they are all equal but you very soon learn that they aren’t because for some reason one of the groups is moving along a lot quicker than the others. For some reason–standardized test scores or IQ tests or something–I was placed in whatever color group would soon be known to all as the good/smart group.
I remained in that group until the day I graduated.
So, I found out I was smart. Or so “they” told me. So, I defined myself as such. I made sure I was always “that” that “they” told me I was. And, if I have to be honest with myself and others, I am smart…above averagely so.
But, reading did not come easily for me. I was a slow reader. I still am. I could read things easily many years beyond my age, but it was always much slower than everyone else. Looking back now (hindsight is always 20/20…), I was quite possibly just absorbing things more/better than my peers (because I did always score much higher on the reading comprehension tests). But I either was not aware of this or didn’t see things that way. I saw myself as bad at it and didn’t want to be found out. So, naturally, I gave it up. It was just not something I did for leisure. I didn’t like others to see me reading and perhaps see how slowly it took me to finally eventually turn that page.
So, I thought I hated reading until I was about half-way through high school. Oh sure, I read a few books every now and then that others had said were good. And I usually enjoyed those ones very much. But I still had that voice in the back of my head saying that I was not a reader. But, about the end or junior year of high school things changed. I had just finished my American Literature class and realized there were all these classics and so-called classic writers. I started reading because I knew I’d be going to college and I wanted a head start and I wanted people in college to think I was smart just like the people elementary through high school had labeled me as “smart.” I wanted that label to go with me when I left school because it was a label I liked–that suited me.
My introverted self (whom most never saw in high school up until this point because I did have MANY friends and was VERY popular and all that stuff) soon discovered that she could get away from everyone and not have to deal with people and conversations and interactions and all that stuff if a book was in front of her face at all times. So, this was when my notorious reading-and-walking began. I’d read in between classes as I walked the halls. I’d read on the track bus. I’d read while waiting for a class to start or the bell to ring for class to be over.
I took the reading into the summer so that I could have an excuse to stay home (unless I knew about a party with a lot of free alcohol…that would always pull me from a book…) with myself and be all introverted. If junior year introduced reading-and-walking, senior year perfected it. My ex-boyfriend decided to finish his last year of high school at my high school–which he had never attended before while we were dating. My terribly attached and fragile heart that was still dangling and orbiting so closely about him could not handle seeing him without intense emotions rushing upon me with lightning speed and elephant weight. So, I buried myself further in books so I wouldn’t be pained by the sight of his face…unless he spoke to me…then the book dropped because all hope was restored and OF COURSE he wanted me back in that moment…right…?…oh, the innocence of a first broken heart.
I got through a lot of books that senior year. My introverted and shy self along with my still broken and unmended heart went off to college half a continent away and took it’s reading-and-walking-to-avoid-connection-confrontation-conversation to a new level. Because now I had an EXCUSE to always be reading–I was paying for college and had so much reading and so much to do to maintain my “smart” status. Now reading extended to EVERYWHERE I walked…and on a campus there is much more walking. With my required reading, I still had a desire for my own reading preferences as well (because I had amassed quite a reading list once I realized how much I had NOT read and how not-smart that made me seem!), so I also extended my reading time to the gym on the bikes and the treadmill and such. I got a lot of reading in…and not a lot of friend-making…which was EXACTLY what I wanted.
So, now I have a massive reading list. Right now I am reading Neurosis and Human Development by Karen Horney. Also, just cracked open my birthday gift from a friend–Love’s Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom. (I’m on a psychology kick, it appears.) Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton is by my bed waiting to be cracked open as a reference book for a role I have in my friend’s film playing an aspiring DJ. It was a suggestion from my former DJ roommate. Also by my bed is The Body Electric by Robert O. Becker, M.D. I started that a month ago and have slowly been making headway when I remember to. My dad just sent me the book I gave him for Christmas. It’s Gandhi’s autobiography. He often does that with book he likes–reads it then sends it to me to read as well. So, I’m not at a loss for books right now. I was about a month ago…ask and you shall receive, huh!
I still feel like and inadequate reader. But I’m more ok with that. Because I no longer read for anyone but me. I no longer read for a grade or for class. I no longer read to get away from people. Well, sometimes, but much less often. I read now simply because I enjoy reading. And, boy, does that feel good!