- by Dianne Drake
How long can you go without reading a book? For me, it’s about two weeks. I’ve always got one in progress, and who knows how many I have waiting in the wings. So, I’m always reading. But sometimes life and writing get in the way, and I’ll go for days without cracking a spine. Yes, I’m old-fashioned. I still like a book in hand, even though I will admit I’ve recently bought myself a Kindle.
Anyway, at about the two-week point, I’ve got to have a book! Don’t care about chocolate addiction, don’t do booze (unless it’s got lots of fruit and umbrellas), don’t smoke, don’t gamble. But I do books. My vice. And sometimes the urge gets so bad, I have to treat myself to a marathon. You know, set aside real time, define the terms of my self-indulgence for my family – in other words leave me the heck alone. Then, read!
To be honest, at the two-week point, I get pretty snarly without my book fix, so the people around me are usually overjoyed to let me go to my cave and devour words.
But here’s the thing. In my everyday life, I’m not surrounded by readers. The people around me most consistently may, at the most, read a collective book a year, and that’s an optimistic figure. So, what’s that about? To be honest, I’m not sure. I see a lot of texting going on. See a lot of focus on other forms of entertainment. But no books… until they’re turned into a movie.
Recently though, a reader entered my life in the form of a new and dear friend. He’s a real, honest-to-goodness reader who loves books just as much as I do. For me, personally, it’s exciting to find that kindred book spirit out there – someone who not only wants to read, but who finds deep satisfaction in the pages. We may not read the same things, but that doesn’t matter because in an industry where we’re bombarded daily about how our readers are walking away, it’s nice to know that some of them are staying and even embracing our efforts. I have this old copy, circa 1876, of a first edition Edgar Allen Poe. It sits on the table in my living room, and it’s been there as long as I can remember. With the exception of me, after I bought it and read it, no one has so much as opened it, let alone glanced at a word or two. Not my husband, not my kids. This poor book simply gets dusted every week, and that’s all. Yet, my new friend saw that book and got legitimately excited. What an awesome book, he said. You’re lucky to have something like this. And you know what. He’s right. I am! I’m also lucky to have all the other gazillion or so books lining my many bookshelves. And I’ll be lucky to have the gazillion or so books I’ll eventually load into my Kindle or future devices.
Sometimes the industry stats get disheartening. We hear that one thing or the other isn’t selling, that fewer and fewer people are reading. We know that the ability to make a living doing what we most love to do is getting tougher. And we’re seeing inferior product on the market now because the market is primed to publish anyone who claims they’re a writer. On top of that, those of us who are fortunate enough to have good publishers who still put our books on the shelves are beginning to feel the promotional pinch – do more Facebook, pick up the Twitter pace. Sometimes it seems isolating and even pointless, doesn’t it? But here’s the thing. I still read. More than that, I have to read! And I’ve found someone else who has to read as much as I do. Isn’t that awesome? In an industry that’s facing all kinds of hardships right now, isn’t that just about the neatest thing you’ve ever hear? Somebody out there still reads books!
So, with optimism in hand, I’m buying books for Christmas this year. Everybody on my list gets one. Will everybody read their book? Honestly, I doubt it. But it makes me feel better knowing that I’m passing along my passion rather than a box of chocolates or a pair of socks. I intend to make thoughtful choices, though (no, I’m not going to pass out various of my own books to everybody, as tempting as that may be). I’ve been researching for about three weeks now, trying to decide who needs what book and I’m beginning to zero in on my selections. It’s fun, actually, matching personalities and interests to books in print. And what’s going to be more fun is encouraging my book-recipients to read their books. I haven’t devised the creative ways I’m going to do this yet, but I will.
In the mean time, I think that, from now on, every time I read a doom and gloom industry statistic telling me how people simply aren’t reading any more, I’ll go buy another book and give it to someone who does read. It may not fix the industry’s problem, but it will sure make me feel better. Of course, the book I’ll just have to buy for myself at the same time will make me feel a whole lot better, too.
At the beginning of the holiday shopping season, give some thought to making this a very bookish holiday. And if you’ve got any suggestions on how I can get my non-bookish clan to read the books I’ll be buying them, I’d love to hear!
Wishing you Health & Happiness!