As addictions go, not a bad one, I know. Even if you buy all of your books, reading costs way less than heroin or even marijuana (well, I think it costs less, and you definitely can’t borrow drugs from a library and then return them!).
And, after all, books teach us about the world and about ourselves, if we’re lucky (if we’re conscious!). If you don’t believe me, check out Nina Sankovitch’s TOLSTOY AND THE PURPLE CHAIR, which is sort of about a woman reading a book a day for a year; or try Will Schwalbe’s THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB, about the author and his dying mother and the books they read in her last year or so of life.)
Being a reader, most of the time, feels extraordinarily lucky to me. I can’t imagine not reading. Even so, being asked to not read for a week, and — more or less — complying, forced me to be more aware of the extent to which I use reading as an escape from my family, from stress, not to mention from almost every other other possibly interesting activity. The museum? A movie? The zoo? Couldn’t I just drink a latte and read for a couple of hours?
I was not entirely faithful. I picked up the newspaper as I ate breakfast almost every morning. For the first few days I kept checking my email and text messages obsessively for something I just had to read. For the first day and a half I continued listening to a book on CD (another one: THE SCARLET LETTER). When the new issue of THE SUN arrived in the mail, I read one article — very very quickly, like an alcoholic gulping down a glass of scotch before anyone could catch me at it. I read my own pages on the days that I worked (which was less than usual as it was Christmas week, but still).
This morning, when my reading fast was up, I was a little