Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Addict

My name is Rebekah and I am a compulsive over-reader. That would be funnier to me if it weren’t true. I can go weeks, even months without reading a book, but the minute I pick one up, I disappear into the oblivion of voracious intellectual consumption until the book has been completely devoured. I have tried again and again the experiment of reading “just one chapter” only to give in three or four days later to the inexorable need to disengage completely from life until the last page is turned. With the recent institution of “Family Reading Time” after dinner each night, I figured I could control my consumption. Half an hour. That was it. It worked for a few days, and then it didn’t. Dang. Am I going to have to start committing my reading to my sponsor?!?!? She all but said so this morning. Dang.

I’ve always read like that—at least for as long as I remember. And it’s probably worth noting that I was reading before I can remember. I think the figure my mom gives is that I started reading at three, which means I literally can’t remember a time when I didn’t read.

In high school, I would do most or all of my homework at school, during study hall, lunch or other classes. After supper, I would disappear into my room to read, starting before bed-time and often continuing until 3 or 4a.m. My mom didn’t realize I was doing this: When I told her recently of this pattern she commented, “No wonder it was impossible to get you out of bed in the morning!”

I guess this is further evidence of my self-diagnosed ADHD. I could do a zillion things at once and thrived on chaos. But when my energy was focused on something I loved, everything else in the universe vanished.

It’s been problematic since having children. While I used to read at least a book a week, and at times a book a day (my Agatha Christie period was like that: they’re quick reads) with the arrival of responsibilities which stubbornly refused to cease existing for the period in which I was immersed, my drug of choice had to come second. At times, I really resented it. And for the addict, resentment is a serious ‘no-no.’

So I don’t read much anymore. My husband and children are kind enough to let me mainline at least one book each summer at the cabin (two years ago it was Watership Down which was friggin’ awesome!) and now and then they have the patience to tolerate my psychological absence for an extended period of time. But by and large, the books are down. They have to be. I have too darn much to do.


This afternoon, I inhaled the second two-thirds of Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America by Jim Webb, lent to me by my father-in-law. Sitting in the living room waiting for me, on the recommendation of my brother Pete, is Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe, by Simon Singh. And gosh darn it if my father didn’t hand me the latest Sister Fidelma mystery by Peter Tremayne at church this morning!!!

Thirty minutes at Family Reading Time. That’s it. I swear.

Suuuuuure. Heard that one before.

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