I’m sure you’ve guessed that I’m a passionate reader, and have been for most of my life. Before I was born, my father was buying books for me. I once told my mother that books were my best friends, and I still count them as among the friends I cherish most. No matter what our financial situation, they never refused me a book, and I was surrounded by them at home, even though neither of my parents were as voracious as I. I was the kid who, at the end of the school year had the pile of fifteen or twenty books from the Junior Scholastic catalog piled on my desk, and a subscription to the summer newsletter. I spent hours in the little magazine store across the street from our house, looking for new titles, and spent all my pocket money there. My parents wanted me to read, they loved it that I did. They never once said, “Wouldn’t you rather be outside playing?”
With that kind of a start it’d be unbelievable if I hadn’t ended up with stacks of TBRs, but I made my way through the bulk of them until my life took a devastating turn. Both my parents developed dementia as they aged. The stress of those years as a caregiver didn’t stop me buying books, and in fact I think I bought more than ever. But I rarely sat down to read any of them, or if I did, I rarely finished them. Of the ones I did finish, I remember very little. Watching the people you love most in the world come apart puts a cramp into everything, even your coping mechanisms. I also became diabetic and my eyes went to hell, and my carpal tunnel got so bad that it was hard to hold a book.
And after they passed, I had to deal with grief and guilt, and all the inevitable changes. I sold their home, bought one of my own, sold hundreds of my books before I moved, and though I still had plenty, I had no desire to read them. I got a Kindle from Amazon as a thank you for helping to judge their first short story contest and immediately started loading it with free ebooks, then very cheap ones, and occasionally full price ones because while ereaders weren’t what I was used to, I did find that they were easier both to hold and to read from.
Time passed, my eyes improved, but I was still pretty much hooked on ereaders. I’d use physical books for research, but for reading for fun, I used my kindle. As a result I now realize that I’ve neglected to provide myself with good reading light except at the kitchen table, and then only when it’s light out.
But I still wasn’t reading much. Most years I’d read maybe half a dozen books. That may seem like a lot to many people, but for me, it was dismal. And then last year, in the middle of a health scare (which turned out to be nothing dire) I began to read with a will again. I don’t know why, something just clicked for me. I discovered the joy of audiobooks, something that had escaped me for years (as had the concept of texting, which I now love and do all the time.) I felt like I was coming back from some desert island.
I discovered ThriftBooks, and began to buy up used books in spite of the fact that I still don’t have good light in the bedroom where I do the bulk of my reading, and I still find it hard to hold books for very long without pain or numbness. I joined the Book of the Month Club and got some really good stuff, and at least one stinker. I joined Goodreads and Litsy, and have been having a great time online. And then finally someone clued me in to the BookSeat which holds my books for me, so all I have to do is turn pages. Yes, my hands and wrists can handle that.
I’ve read 72 books so far this year. Let that sink in. From six a year to seventy-two so far in 2017. I’m building myself a reading nook, a process that’s a bit stalled, but still. I’ve signed on to NetGalley and have started requesting books from Amazon Vine again, so I’m getting ARCs in exchange for reviews. And I’ve won two early readers’ books from Goodreads.
I don’t know if I could ever express the happiness I feel each time a book arrives in the mail, each time I lie down and open a book, knowing that for a couple of hours, I’ll be doing one of the the things I love best. I just know I’m very fortunate.