Monday, December 26, 2005

for love of books

Every year since before I can remember, I have gotten books for Christmas. And every year that I've given gifts, I've given someone a book. Christmas Day, as a kid, was a chance to lose myself into a new book. As an adult, my Christmas book was treasured on the plane flight returning from the Midwest to wherever I was living at the time. This year, since I didn't travel for the first time, I haven't had much of a chance to read my Christmas books (to left).

I wish I had more time to read for fun, but for the past few years, scientific literature has taken almost all of my reading bandwidth. I'm so bad that when I want a little light reading before bedtime, I'll open up my professional society's weekly newsletter. Partially this malaise is due to my reading style, which borders on obsessive.

Usually come vacation time, I'll devour a book or two to compensate from my normal paucity of literature. When I start reading fiction, I read for hours at a time. Often, I'll start reading a book at 8 pm, and I'll read until 1-2 am, waking at 8 am to finish reading by early afternoon. During that time I won't eat or shower or even talk to anyone. After the last page, I wander around in a daze for a while just trying to get closure on the book and prepare my mind for returning to the real world. The last book I had a chance to read a good book in that manner was Harry Potter 6. When I can't read fiction or literature all at once, I don't tend to be very good at reading it all. In the past year, I've given up on Sometimes a Great Notion and I'm currently stuck on Reading Lolita in Tehran. It's not that they are not great reads, I know they are, it's just that I haven't been able to give them the chunks of time that they deserve and that I need to surrender to the world in the book.

And that's the beauty of non-fiction. By it's very nature it's not as escapist as literature, and often times it doesn't need to be read linearly. I can open to a chapter or a page, read for a few minutes at breakfast or in the bathroom, learn something, and then proceed to mull it over during the course of my day. For example, last night I read a section in Boundaries of Her Body about the mixed bag of judicial rulings on whether a woman can refuse medical treatment that might save the life of her fetus. Sure, the discussion might make more sense if I had it in the context of the preceding 250 pages, but it was interesting and thought-provoking nevertheless.

I hope that someday I can once again devour a book a week, or a day, escaping into the words of great writers who weave their tales so beautifully. But until then, until I can give the wordsmiths justice, I'll take my non-fiction. Just the facts, ma'am.

P.S. I know that Reading Lolita is actually a memoir, but it reads like a novel, so I've intentionally miscategorized it above.

1 comment:

Writer Chica said...

I totally got this post. My fiction reading has been awfully infrequent, but my non-fiction has really picked up cause I can read snippets in 10-15 minutes whenever I get a chance.