'Twas the night before Christmas and all through my mother-in-law's house....well, anyway, I was at my mother-in-law's house deep in rural Kentucky, and she said to me at one point, "Bob, I thought you would be reading. I'm used to seeing you reading all the time."
"Yeah, I am," I lied, holding up this iPad, "I'm just reading on this now."
But I wasn't. I was doing something else, I can't remember what, though I quickly shifted to The Perks Of Being A Wallflower in a pathetic attempt to legitimize myself. And that's pretty much where I was with reading (outside of my classes) until that wake-up call.
I suppose I should have mentioned my reading initiative earlier in the month, like before my previous post. But it's been more of a plan in the making than a fully-realized initiative. All I know is that I used to read all the time, and then, I started reading digitally and congratulating myself about that, and then simply not reading as much, especially on my iPad, which offered so many other things to do.
I had told myself that it would be like this and then I fell into the trap anyway.
But , thanks to my dad, I got a bunch of books for Christmas, and thanks to BookBlurb and GoodReads, I got some digital books, and so I've started reading again.
This month on the blog, I am dedicating my entries to the act of reading books, an act that, based on an ethnographic study involving only myself, seems to be less and less normal or intuitive. I like to read, I want to read, but I find myself increasingly drawn to doing other things, especially on devices that are at least partially intended for reading. And so the 5th book of A Song Of Fire And Ice has been started but then ignored. And other books have not been started.
But I've kept up with a number of television series and started on some new ones and worked HBO Go, Netflix, Infinity, the PBS app, and other viewing sources. I used to like to tease my students and tell them that I had read the Harry Potter movies, not the books. And, then, all of a sudden, I wasn't reading anything at all once evening fell.
But I'm going back to that archaic habit, and, at least at the start of 2013, I will use this blog to keep me honest. So I will use all of my posts in January to talk about books, and I must confess, I haven't read enough books to have something to talk about for all of those posts, so I will have to get to reading.
At the risk of calling others out, I don't hear my friends talking about books so much anymore either. The conversation, when it happens, will tend to focus on a particular niche book or a book that was really calling someone, rather than the natural discussions of a regular pattern of reading.
Maybe we are just reading online, shorter stuff, pithier stuff, pieces that can be digested quickly like the piece I am churning out as we speak. Or maybe that election just took too much out of us and we had to take a step back from reading anything at all. Or maybe, like me, we just aren't reading much at all, and though we could probably talk a good game,we really couldn't back it up. I got a bunch of books from my dad for Christmas, mostly historical stuff focused on the Revolutionary War, and I gave him several books as well. What books are you reading from Christmas?
Anyway, my mission for the month is to re-instill a love of reading in all of us, whether you think you need it or not. I certainly do. I read so well in the summer, and then it all dissipates. Consider this a New Year's Resolution, if you must. Make it that stereotypical and predictable. Nevertheless, please acknowledge that this habit, this mental exercise, like its physical counterpart, needs a plan, a schedule, an intentionality in order to succeed.
And if you don't have the stack of books staring you in the face on your nightstand, if you don't feel the weight of your potential digital library as you carry it around on a portable device, if you don't carry some words with you to a solo lunch or an in-law's house or a car while you are waiting for your family at the mall, then you won't get it done. At least, I know I won't. And I'm not that different from you.