Friday, May 15, 2009

Reading

Pastor has been encouraging us to read more. I'm all for it because I love reading... but somehow I found myself frowning a bit about it, too. Because I do read. Sometimes a lot. There's been a lot of times where I've wandered in red-eyed because I started reading a new book at 11 the night before and finished it around 3 am.* 2

But now it feels like every time I start devouring a book, I'm doing it as a suck-up. As if I should be forcing myself, laboring over the texts... grunting inside, thinking "He's right, but, geez this is tough!"

It brings me back to high school when other students would see that I had a particularly strict teacher. They'd console me and groan about how miserable that teacher made life for them the semester before, all the while I'd be doing the best work I ever had and looked forward to those classes everyday.** Those were often the only classes I had that reached into the A-B market on report cards. I suppose that in my crazy life the structure those strict teachers required was something I really needed and craved.***

And I like hard books - almost to the point of masochism. I'm waiting for my copy of Astrophysics in a Nutshell 1 even though I didn't get beyond Algebra I in high school - let alone geometry and calculus. I have to wait until I finish a few other books I got a few weeks ago before I shell out nearly $50 for a book that I have no clue if I'll ever finish.

There's a strange feeling I get after I finish reading a book, a feeling of accomplishment - which I've come to admire far more greatly than that feeling of being a total shlub after watching a movie or a couple hours of television. Along with that, it seems as if reading a lot makes you a member of a semi-existing secret society. You can call me crazy, but you know it's true. Walk into a Barnes 'n' Noble or a well-stocked library and you'll feel that slight wave of quiet arrogance of being exclusive. When I think about it, I almost feel as if there's some sort of hierarchy - as if the people around me in the store are probably far more "read" than me and that they can tell somehow. That feeling seems to fade when I have a favorite bookstore that I frequent - especially if I'm walking in there red-eyed from a night of reading. On those days I bolster in as if it were my own private library. But, if it had been a while since I'd read the last chapter of a book, I enter as surreptitiously as possible.

I remember when I was 7 or 8, I was sitting at the kitchen table. My father was there reading and mom was in the kitchen complaining about how much he read (she wasn't completely in the wrong - he would read, rather than work or interact with the family). After a few minutes, he turned to me. "No matter what your mother says about it - don't ever think that it's bad to read. Read as much as you can." My parents never said anything like that to me before, or ever since.

I'm certain that I've attained the love for books from my father, considering I don't know if I've ever seen my mother even glance at a book, except when she was glaring at those my father had. He was always reading something. Usually science fiction books, but many times something about history. Or guns. Or the history of guns. I'm serious, I remember at least 5 books that were on the history of Smith and Wesson and/or guns in general. But who am I to point and laugh? I've read up on the history of video games via wikipedia.org several times, and if I could find a decent book on the subject I'd be walking into the office the next morning, bleary-eyed with smug look on my face. Although, I doubt that would really be one of those books Pastor was talking about.




1. Astrophysics in a Nutshell: by Dan Maoz
2. The last time this happened was last week. I was reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It was alright. Not great. Good recommendation for Jr.High - which is it's target, so snaps for Boyne John.


*I get mad at myself if I can't finish a book within a few days. Usually, if I haven't finished it within a week, I never will.

**
Unless, of course, I hadn't finished my homework. I've actually intentionally sprained my ankle in order to go home early because I didn't have a book report completed on it's due-date.

***
I was one of those kids that were smart and stupid at the same time. I was smart enough that I could've taken the toughest classes and aced them all, but was so wrapped up in the crap I was dealing with in my private life that I decided that I was too dumb to do it. Those "strict" teachers probably just knew this and had the guts to call me on it. They seemed unrelenting, but actually respected my intelligence by not letting me slide through. God Bless 'em.

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