Many years ago, a friend, mentor, teacher and author gave me a T-shirt that said: So many books, so little time.
That phrase has been burned into my brain ever since. When it comes to books and book stores, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I borrow way more books than I can ever hope to read from the local library and incur enough late fees to add a second wing to the building. I didn’t think it was possible but I swear I’m about to overload my Kindle with dozens of titles in as many genres, all unread. I also bookmark more blogs than I have time to absorb and enjoy, and then there are the magazines and newspapers that I buy because I still like the feel of them. They are piled at the foot of my couch.
I’m also guilty of being a multiple book/media reader. When I was younger I used to be able to get away with it. I could remember the various plot lines of novels, biographies or thrillers not to mention the anecdotes and statistics of business books. Lately less so. I blame it on this new age of information overload rather than my own advancing age. And so I’ve had to grudgingly limit myself to two books at a time and a few periodicals. That way, there’s a chance I might get to enjoy them.
I have further diminished my normally good reading habits by enhancing another good habit – that of writing regularly. Whoever says you can have it all never had to balance reading, writing and working a full-time job (or raising a family.)
I’ve been writing a blog for two years now and I recently published my first book, a memoir entitled Any Color but Beige: Living Life in Color. And while writing the blog and the book has been a real labor of love, it has ultimately cut into my reading habits. Instead of reading before bed, I’m busy taking notes. Instead of reading on the plane, I’m turning those notes into posts or pages. And therein lies the dilemma because reading is the ultimate resource for new ideas and a sure cure for writer’s block. But reading is not only about work, it’s also about pleasure. So here’s my own personal list of why I read. It’s a mix of reasons as eclectic as the books I read.
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1) Reading enriches my vocabulary.
2) Reading good prose inspires me to be a better writer.
3) Reading transports me to new places without ever having to pack a bag.
4) Reading gives me insight into myself and others.
5) Reading gives meaning to my life.
6) Reading allows me to appreciate the beauty of a well-turned phrase or line.
7) Reading relaxes me.
8) Reading teaches me like nothing else can. I read therefore I learn.
And finally, reading adds color to my life. Without books it would indeed be a beige world.