Now I’m Just Somebody Who Used To Read Books

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

It probably won’t shock you that I grew up as a big reader. My Dad was a book reader and my mother read 3 newspapers every day as well as watching the news, so I gained an appreciation for both. I constantly checked books out of the school library, asked for books as gifts and just pretty much buried myself in books whenever possible.

I wasn’t discriminating – I’d be reading the Count of Monte Cristo and Sweet Valley High simultaneously. My older neighbor Margaret would sneak my romance novels in high school. In college, I had several friends who read and we swapped books pretty often. I also continued to read the newspaper daily, taking advantage of a student discount.

When I went to LSU, I was average a text-book a week so I didn’t have as much time for pleasure reading (still read the paper) however the books were still stimulating and engaging. I also read quite a bit of literature for my political philosophy classes. And I continued to read afterwards- for years. I went to used book stores, the library, raised my friends stashes, and always found a source.

I have vivid memories of falling asleep with books on the bed, waking up and picking up where I left off only to realize I was late for work!

That changed when I started to get symptomatic in 2010. I couldn’t concentrate so I stopped reading. I stopped blogging. I stopped reading the paper. I think I read one book in its entirety that year. As I began to recover, I started to read again but my concentration was still limited. I found that I preferred non-fiction, especially biographies and autobiographies which was a little new for me. I also began reading dozens of online articles every day. That eroded my time to read actual books.

Then I slipped one night (my balance was impaired a bit by my meds) and hit my head pretty hard. I ended up with a concussion and had to cut my screen time, but I also couldn’t read. I started listening to books on tape (so to speak) and that renewed my desire to read fiction. The books that turned the tide for me were The Hunger Games series which I listened to as audio books.

I think I’ve lost some of my love of reading and I’m unsure why. I still enjoy serial mysteries, but I’ve found that I cannot tolerate excessive violence or gory novels. I am also bored pretty easily – the Alexandra Cooper novels about a sex crimes unit in New York are now repetitive and too character driven versus plot driven. I even tried rereading Little Women last year and was appalled at the sexism (the scenes of Meg in domestic bliss) and the preachiness.

It is almost like something in my brain was rewired to change my tastes in reading. That’s okay because reading new books is still a good thing.

So the short answer to the question is that I went one year without reading. The books that turned the tide were The Hunger Games. And I’m happy to report that Catching Fire debuts on various live streaming sites on my birthday, October 22. I always prefer to read the book first, but I do look forward to movie adaptations.

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  • One semester!

    My first semester at college, I didn’t read anything for pleasure. I didn’t even realize what I was doing. When winter break came around and I read something, I immediately felt this profound sense of relief, and at that moment I realized I hadn’t read *anything* for months.

    I’ve never done it again. It’s too awful for my sanity. 🙂

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