What Reading Means to Me – Then And Now

You can only imagine my pleasure at reading this headline: “Generation Read: Millennials Buy More Books Than Everybody Else.” As a person that currently has books in my passenger seat, ready to head back to the library return slot in exchange for another round of new picks, I can’t say I’m surprised. My sister described her weekend as a three-hour over-stimulated journey through Waterstones (the British version of Barnes & Noble). But the way people speak of my generation, you’d think we were dolts who cannot operate anything that doesn’t have an electronic touch screen.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are the visits my mom, sister and I made to the library, a red lacquered building that held so much wonder to me. It was the kid version of “Cheers,” where you walk in and the proprietor (the librarian in this case) knows your name and your favorite selection (The Babysitters’ Club in this case).  It never failed that every Saturday, after the morning cleaning frenzy, there would be the reward: hours of time to wander around for new titles and authors. And at the end, you get to take some home with you. That was all the motivation I needed to make me do those dishes faster.

Though my desire to write wanes with the cycles of the moon, I never will turn down the opportunity to get lost for hours in a book. It is a trait that my sister shares as well – if the book is in my face, chances are I’m not hearing a word you’re saying to me. It’s never one book at a time. I like to imagine I can take on all the stories at once, letting my desire for adventure or romance or history decide which book I’ll pick up each time. I love the moments spent looking for my previous place, reinserting myself in the narrative and aligning my thoughts with those of the characters. And when I find the transformative story that draws me in, erasing time and other forms of entertainment…well that’s the ultimate experience.

As a page-turning enthusiast, my initial reaction to e-readers was one of “Ew, why would you do that? “ Nothing excites me more than when someone asks me “What are you reading?” Much as some people like to share their vacation photos or their kids’ soccer game video, I want to tell you about this great book. Some of the best conversations I have with my family begin with “So, what are you reading right now?” This usually leads to many shared Amazon.com and NPR books reviews, discussions about the genre, the background of the author and the best place to store stacks of the current reading list. (For my sister, it’s pretty much anywhere that you won’t trip over.) Over time, I was worn down and when I gifted myself an iPad, it was over. I downloaded the Kindle app and discovered that traveling with a tablet full of downloads beats lugging loads of novels any day and I didn’t look back.

A nugget of information highlighted in the Good article is that more and more readers are reading electronically, spelling doom and disaster for the brick-and-mortar bookstore. I wish I could say I was helping that cause but the lure of the library is still strong in me, and I’ll continue to go where everyone (at least in my imagination) knows my name.


One Reply to “What Reading Means to Me – Then And Now”

  1. Fantastic post! And so true about putting books somewhere just out of the way, but never out of my line of sight. I love seeing them in my peripheral vision and thinking about what I’m going to read next. It is one of the most exciting aspects of reading: the anticipation of starting a new book, particularly one you’ve been looking forward to for ages. With that in mind, get on that new Toni Morrison ‘Home’, relatively short but incredibly powerful (from your Book Whisperer)

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