Rediscovering My Inner Reader
As a kid, my parents called me “the house cat” because I could usually be found in the house curled up with a book while other kids were outside riding bikes or climbing trees. For as long as I can remember my bookishness was part of my identity. I loved getting lost in the magic of a good book. I still do. The funny thing is, I got completely away from that part of myself for a long time. It wasn’t a conscious choice. It just kind of happened.
In retrospect, I realize that reading for pleasure was curtailed in college when text books necessarily replaced my escapist novels. I was too busy studying for the test to read for my own enjoyment. Then graduate school came with more text books, followed by a new marriage, then a career that had me commuting down the 405 freeway everyday. The arrival of two kids in less than two years put a stop to my reading altogether. An exuberant little boy was followed by a profoundly handicapped and very needy daughter. Those years were a blur of the usual busy mom stuff mixed with a healthy dose of therapy appointments, caregiving and the worry that accompanies a disabled and fragile child.
One day I realized that a decade had passed and I’d hardly touched a book. How had that happened? Life happens I suppose. I found my role as a new mom to be all consuming. Somewhere along the way, I lost an important part of myself, the bookish kid part. Well, my children are older now (we even added a third) and I like to think I’ve achieved some balance and perspective. I’m reading again and it’s sublime! I’ve read a lot of classics, some lovely memoirs and biographies, and some delectable novels. Until recently I was a member of not one but two book groups. I’m not a little sad to know that I missed out on ten years worth of great books. I don’t think I had to relinquish my library card in order to be a devoted young mother. In fact, I think it would have helped me get through those difficult years to escape into a good novel from time to time. I wish someone had sat me down when I was twenty-five and told me to keep on reading no matter what. Now my “to read” list is long and it’s constantly being added to. I’ll never get to the end of it but it will be fun trying!
So I’m curious. Have any of you had this experience of suppressing something that was fundamental to your personality? I suspect it’s a fairly common phenomenon. If so, I hope most of you didn’t let it go on for a decade. Oh, and any great book suggestions are appreciated! Here’s a list of a few books I’ve particularly enjoyed.
The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
Lowell L. Bennion: Teacher, Counselor, Humanitarian by Mary Bradford
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger