Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Confessions of a Compulsive Reader

compulsive: adj. The type of behavior a person exhibits that is overpowering, repeated, and often irrational. – from the Addictionary

When Jay and I were on our honeymoon, we had a lot of fun being lazy. One of my favorite memories is of the two of us lounging on hammocks by the ocean reading a novel together. In fact, to this day (7.90 months later), I cannot listen to Jay read without being reminded of Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card. At the time, I remember thinking to myself, "What a fun tradition this will be!" I made tentative mental lists of all the books we would read aloud to each other. I envisioned the two of us, fifty years down the road, cuddled up on the couch in front of a fire as we read together, my plans filmed in the rosy tints of honeymoon bliss.

I generally pride myself on being fairly self-aware. I've muddled through girly and adolescent inferiority complexes along with a fair bit of localized arrogance, but I think I now reside in a usually happy medium where I'm pretty conscious of my strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. I typically have a good idea of what constitutes an achievable reality for me. That said, I now realize how truly addled I was by the so-called "honeymoon phase." Allow me to explain.

I have always loved books. Before I was literate, my parents would tirelessly read me stacks upon stacks of books (Benefit of Being the Oldest Child #8: Parents may be inexperienced, but they are not yet burned out). When I could string letters together into words on my own, I began to devour books (in a figurative sense, unlike my younger sister, Sara, who has always been more of a literalist). I was the second grader who would check out 10 Nancy Drew books from the library and be finished with them all less than a week later. This had less to do with being a somewhat advanced reader or a fairly fast reader than it was to do with the simple fact that I could not pry my nose out of a book to save my life (or get my chores done, or play with friends, or do my homework...).

I wish I could say that time has mellowed me and I can now ration out an interesting book over a week or two, but alas, such is not the case. Once I get sucked in, I tend to neglect my responsibilities, my husband, eating, school, a reasonable bedtime, and personal hygiene. I am just not a responsible reader. I'll camp on the couch in my pajamas for the 3 to 8+ hours it takes me to finish a book, growling at anyone who dares interrupt me.

Unfortunately, this aspect of my character does not generally apply to "good" books (i.e. non-fiction, self-improvement, educational, or most "classic" literature), the Brussels sprouts and Metamucil of the book family. No, my literary diet consists of the written equivalent of chocolate cake and bon bons—mass amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates—with an occasional dose of printed heroin (Dan Brown comes to mind).

Jay and I have finished one or two books together since our honeymoon. Jay and I have also started over ten books together since our honeymoon. I wish I could say that we didn’t finish the books together because we just got too busy or because Jay was a stinker and would read with a flashlight under the covers after I fell asleep. I wish I could say that.

My name is Lindsay, and I am a compulsive reader.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to finish.

4 comments:

  1. Jay just shared your blog with me and I love it! This post was so funny. I hate to say it but I am also a compulsive reader! If only I preferred textbooks life would be good...

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  2. Well written post! I really enjoy your writing, and this post especially hits home. I know well the feeling of planting yourself in one place, determined not to be bothered by anyone/anything until the book has been finished. My name is Lacey and I, too, am a compulsive reader. This has has become much more of a problem now that I have a child. I will have to share this post with Stephen, he'll get a kick out of it. I'm glad I'm not the only one out there with this problem. We really ought to put our books down long enough to start a support group or something. Or a book club, at least... :)

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  3. I used to be like you, read read read stacks of books in a week and go to the library for more to read til we had pretty read everything in the children/teen section. Now that I am older I rarely read. I think I read more things online, articles, blogs, emails..but I do miss the days of reading a good book or magazine. I even read the Ensign on my palm pilot!

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  4. You are such a captivating writer. I love it! I remember you stealing my book that I had checked out from the library. I would come home and find you reading it. Too funny! You are a compulsive reader. At least that's more valuable use of your time than say TV.

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