July 21, 2007

The Two Year Deficit

There is a new book in our house. I don't know how it happened. Something slipped and Spike and I agreed to buy a book today. The past year has been a blissful oasis of internet chess, obsessive blogging, NBA games and napping. There was no question in my mind that I had advanced past books. And yet here we are again.

As I write, Spike lies on our bed reading the latest Harry Potter novel. I hear the wisp of pages turning every few minutes and I'm intrigued.

The day of reckoning is upon us. I had convinced myself that I didn't need to read anymore. I had convinced myself that as a mother, blogger and competitive sleeper, books were a thing of the past. I listed most of our books for sale on half.com last year and have been slowly selling off our collection. Some bring in ten bucks, some only a few cents, but the feeling of freedom I get every time I stick one in the outgoing mailbox is priceless. All those words, all that information freed into the world to puzzle and stretch a more energetic mind. Anyone's but mine.

I used to read obsessively. In grade school I was infamous for staying awake multiple nights a week to finish books. I found all the lists of Recommended Reading and checked everything out from the library to see what all the fuss was about. When company came to stay at the house I'd hide in the broom closet with my books and a flashlight until they left. It was my passion. Where did it all go wrong?

In my reading glory-days I'd sit down with a book and remain frozen until I had skidded to a stop on the final page. My mind would be completely immersed in the story. My heart rate synchronized with the protagonist's. It was a true escape and a chance to live lives beyond my wildest imaginations. And then I got pregnant.

My reading changed. I checked out every book at the library with the word 'Pregnancy' in the title. Two years ago I became a parent so I moved ten feet down the isle to the Parenting section. This is where my faith in books began to waver. I was shocked to find that 99% of these authors have no clue what they are talking about. As a new mom with burning questions, the dearth of answers in my beloved books crushed me. I had never felt so betrayed. I wrote scathing reviews on Amazon.com, I called my mother and sisters in tears daily and I swore never to read another parenting book again. My betrayal in the Parenting section soured me on the library and I haven't been back since. After all, I'm 27, I've learned everything possible in life already, right? Did someone with my great wisdom and creativity really need books? For the sake of getting the dishes done at the end of the day, I convinced myself I didn't.

But as I listen to the wisps of pages in the bedroom tonight, I grow more and more excited. I remember what it was like to pour myself into the pages of a story. I remember the feeling of turning a page that has never been turned before and the delightful, slightly moldy smell of a book's binding. I can recall the satisfying thump of closing the cover on the last page of the book after sucking in the final sentences. I want to read again. The Parenting section at the library has taken two vital years of my life from me and created a blackhole of literature but I'll beat it. I'm going to read Rowling's novel, and then I'm going to read another book, and another book, and another book, and another... (fade to black)

15 comments:

Clyde said...

You go girl, set the good example for all of us, mothers!
P.S. Harry P. is a huge affair in our house so we highly recommend it to break the ice. Plus you never know how useful can be to learn spells at midnight feeding...
Hey Mommy, why Charlotte looks like a very green toad?
It's Okay, Penny. I was just practicing the switch and flick move. :)

Susan M said...

You should sign up at shelfari.com to find some good books. It's a pretty cool website.

Amy said...

parenting books are dumb.

compulsive writer said...

Yay! for you! I'm sure you already know this (you, know, seeing how you've been reading all the parent books lately) but seeing you read books makes your kids more literate.

And well, I cannot talk about Harry until you'v read it. But good choice.

Heffalump said...

I go through reading cycles where there is just nothing I am interested in reading. Not very often though. I just finished that HP book this afternoon. It was good!
Of course I can't say that book got me started back into reading. I have been reading a few books a week for a while now, much to my husband's dismay. Maybe I should pay some attention to him too.

Awesome Mom said...

I waited about that long after having kids to really do any fun reading. Then I got me a library card and have not looked back. I do have over due fines now and then but I am fine with that.

Melissa said...

I too got lost in the parenting books. Felt like a mommy moron by the time I was done. I'm always afraid to pick up a new book... I don't want to read trash. But then I get involved in the story and I want to know what happens... blah blah blah... enjoy the Harry Potter book! I finished yesterday :)

Colleen said...

I am so with you on the parenting books. Especially the ones about how to get your kid to sleep. Morons, all of them. I returned to reading by putting all the books I want to read on my Pocket PC. Best. Invention. Ever. It's a one-handed affair, so it's easy to read while breastfeeding, and even in the dark.

chanel said...

who needs parenting books when you can just ignore your parenting duties and read HP!!!! Thats what I've done, its bliss!

Sarah said...

So I got this crazy urge this morning to write a parenting book myself. It would be called "Unnatural Parenting" and it would be all about how parents need to just relax because their kids are NOT going to die from unwashed grapes, infant formula and dishsoap shampoo. I feel like every first time parent reads all the touchy feely stuff at the library then has this HUGE letdown after their baby is born and they realize that there is no way they can protect their babies from the world. I say embrace it.

I'm serious - I want to write it.

Amy said...

Sarah--I hope you're serious. You should write a book like that. Have you noticed how many super nervous moms there are these days? Maybe that would help. I bet you get could lots of pediatricians to contribute and be like "calm down." You should do it.

Adrienne said...

Is he done yet? I finished The Deathly Hallows last night at 8. We only bought one copy, though, so I can't talk to Francis about it until he finishes. It's killing me.

Word of advice: read the last few chapters of Half Blood Prince before diving in. I'd forgotten a few of the details...

nancy said...

Come back to books! Here's my summer must-read: Glass Castle. A memoir about a woman who had the most irresponsible, mixed-up parents on earth, yet the parents still had funny, redeeming qualities, and the kids turned out fine. I find it reassuring that there may be hope for my kids despite my shortcomings as a parent ...

Th. said...

.

As it should be.

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