Who the Hell Am I? I Am a Reader
As a kid, my mom made books a prominent and regular part of my life. My family lived a couple blocks from the library, and weekly visits were common. My mom read to me and my siblings when we were young, signed us up for summer reading programs and encouraged us to continue reading as we aged. Some in my family grew out of reading, but for the rest of us, a love of books is still a strong part of our character.
My mom tells me that I learned to read early in life. I am not sure the exact age, but my reading skills were always ahead of my classmates. I read the Lord of the Rings in third and fourth grade despite my teacher saying it would be too difficult. I set my reading goals for Book It above others in my class. I finished my library books ahead of time at school, sometimes getting to pick another book before the official class library day. Books are a part of me.
Sadly, as an adult, I go through phases of heavy reading to no reading at all. Sometimes life gets in the way, making it hard to invest time in a good book. But even with gaps between reading, I have never lost my love for the medium. When I get a chance to read a book, I am immersed in the world before me. I start thinking about other books I want to consume. I have a growing list to read before I die. I know that list will continue to expand. There is no shortage of great books being released.
Apart from life’s busyness, my novel reading has taken a backseat to comic books lately. I do not look down on comics as a lesser medium. I think comics can be as fulfilling and substantial as novels. The truth is that I tend to get wrapped up in things, and that leaves little room for anything else in my life. When I started back into comics, I was reading everything that DC Comics put out. That equated to 52 comics a month plus miniseries. It ate up a lot of time. I began adding books from other publishers to my reading list over the next couple years. I was drowning in all the material. It became a chore to keep up with the output.
That brought me to the decision to take a sabbatical from comics. I want to break myself of some bad habits. I do not need to be up to date on every series and major publisher. It is okay to consume comics in larger chunks. I also need to stop reading everything that publishers put out. I am a completest at heart. If I read one thing by Marvel, then I feel like I need to read them all. It is the wrong way to think about reading comics and prevents me from having time for other things in life.
Along with breaking myself of these bad habits, my break from comics will give me time to get back into novels. I recently started the series A Song of Ice and Fire. It has been on my “to read” list for a long time. I am on the third novel, and it is excellent. I forgot how much I love to delve into the world of an author, learning all I can about the people and places. It is a feeling unlike any other in the world.
Apart from the shear entertainment and enthrallment of books, it is also a healthy way to improve my writing. Reading helps to see the way other authors deal with characters, worlds and events. It teaches sentence structure and grammar. It shows examples of when to stick to the rules and the times when it is okay to break them. I often worry about the complexity of my sentences, but as I read other books, I see that the authors work with words and ideas in the same way. It is affirming and challenging at the same time.
I am a few weeks into my break from comics, and I feel a joy inside as I rediscover my love for books. No other medium expands the mind the way that the written word is able. It brings back great memories as a child with a book in my lap. I hope that I never lose that sense of awe and wonder as I grow older. I want to always give myself time to enjoy the act of reading and pass that love on to my future children.