When I was a kid, I was an avid reader. I would devour anything I could get my hands on. I would end up reading shampoo bottles or cereal boxes when I ran out of good books. It didn’t matter. If it had words, I read it.
In 1991, the book Scarlett was released. I had just gone through a pretty deep love affair with the movie Gone With the Wind. It was no surprise that I wanted to read the sequel. I rode my bike to the library to check it out and of course there was a wait list. When I was finally contacted because my number had been called, I presented my library card to a skeptical librarian. She wanted to call my mom to ask for permission to loan it to me.
My mom had 6 kids. She couldn’t care less what her 14 year old was reading. I wasn’t causing trouble. The library could lend me Fifty Shades of Grey and she wouldn’t bat an eye.
I borrowed that book and returned it in two days. The librarian smirked a little when asking if it was just too hard. I smiled widely when I told her I had finished the book that morning and wanted to get it back so the next person in the waiting list could check it out.
That was the first time I remember staying up all night to read a book. I shared a room with my sister and she was so mad I kept the light in to read. You know those books you just can’t put down. The characters suck you in. You replay the scenes in your head like a movie. I loved everything about it even if I cringe a bit now.
I joined a book club many years ago. I was a founding member. I faithfully read every book and attended every meeting. I traveled from Lisle to the Southside to see those lovely ladies. They were there when my house flooded and when my mom died. They were there all through my first pregnancy. I remember attending one of their baby showers with McKenna strapped to me in the baby carrier.
And then nothing. It stopped. It wasn’t them. It was me. Really. I just stopped going. It got too hard. Then I stopped reading. I was so busy—a baby does that to you. I rejoined a book club in my neighborhood shortly before Covid but that fizzled. I wasn’t really reading the books anyway. Again. I was just too busy.
Then last summer, some ladies in the neighborhood decided to resurrect the book club in a socially distanced meeting. I was trying to make the time to read. I was buying the books and trying to read a little each night. I was enjoying it but couldn’t keep up with the club’s pace. There weren’t enough hours in the day. I was having trouble finishing the book for our October 2021 meeting so I thought I could finish up quickly if I listened to it instead.
Checking it out from the library was a breeze. I finished that book on my way to work in a couple days. I checked out the sequel and finished that one up in 4 days. From October to December I read 11 book this way. For 2022, I set a modest goal of 25 books. Since January 1, I’ve read 17 books! From April 2015 until October 2021, I read exactly 2 books and now I’ve powered through 17 in less than 3 months.
It feels so good to get lost in a good book again. Audiobooks have changed the game. It’s torn down the barriers of finding time and quiet. I don’t need to worry about buying or borrowing the book. No need to physically go to the library to check out a book or remember to return it in time. I don’t have kids tearing out pages or hiding my doin. I know it’s not reading reading but it’s what I can do at this point in my life to enjoy something I love. I’ll pick up a book again. It may not be for 18 years, but for now, this will do.