My life has been awash in words for as long as I can remember.
I was a voracious reader growing up, but the steady, overabundant diet of sentences I consumed in four years of AP English and six years of higher education left my brain sated and distended, as though I had been force-fed a box of eclairs. I wanted to throw up at the mere thought of reading a book. For a while, I stuck to road signs and instructions.
It didn’t take long before I chose a career path with required reading. As an editor, I was like BASF – my job wasn’t making the stories, it was making the stories better, a task that required full engagement with the topic at hand, interesting or not (have you read a town meeting story? Try reading 10 in one sitting.). It was in the newsroom that I became a junkie, addicted to the rush of a breaking story and each night mainlining five different wire versions of the same event, just to wonder at how a single thing could be seen from so many angles.
Depressing as the news seems to be these days, I still read a lot of it – I can’t help myself. Maybe it’s habit, but in the last eight years or so, my body and soul have craved a steady stream of nonfiction. I should be embarrassed to tell you that I’ve read more self-help books than you probably know exist, but in among the junk I’ve found some precious pearls of wisdom.
At the moment, even my at-home list of chores includes reading. This weekend I finally tackled the stacks of half-read magazines scattered throughout the house – at least 2 vertical feet of them – reading, sorting, skimming, discarding, saving. I had marked dozens of pages by folding down their upper corner. Was it a passage or recipe worth saving, or the place that I stopped, or … some I just couldn’t figure out. I made it through about 6 inches’ worth before time and my ability to lift the recycling bin ran out.
Saturday I picked up two books at the library – one on ‘healing my life’ and Moonwalking with Einstein, a so-far immensely entertaining exploration of memory and how to improve it. I whittled down the stack of volumes by my bed, several destined for donation, many more stashed in a lower compartment of the bedside cabinet.
Last night, I talked with a couple of friends on the phone when I had intended to be vacuuming. The floor was still filthy and I was only halfway through my current Netflix movie. A pair of pants lay waiting to be mended. But like every night, I headed up to bed early. Before I turned off the light, I wanted to read for a while.