Monday, December 14, 2009

The Joy of Reading: Let's Not Forget

I feel renewed, as though I just got back from the most relaxing meditative vacation: a cruise or an island getaway, those unique breaks that allow quiet personal reflection, healthy indulgences and overdue relaxation. In fact, I'm just temporarily unemployed.

The furlough in my work schedule is not the reason for my current sense of contentment, however. What is? Books. Stories.

You see, I've spent the last two weeks reading almost non-stop, and although I am constantly reading, this was intense. I feel as though I have rekindled my love affair (obsession?) with books, and in the process remembered their irreplaceable role in my life.

Allow me to explain... Since publishing my memoir, I have been an Internet whore, so to speak. I've clocked many non-working hours online: joining social network sites, making e-friendships and trading resources with other struggling writers, whom I believe have great promise and, like me, are still developing their platforms. I have ventured territories that I said I never would: Twitter, Ning sites, Gather, MySpace, and in the midst of it all, I lost my ability to read.

Sounds dramatic, I know, but it's true. I found myself sending hundreds of emails and brief sentiments, exchanging bite-sized news clips and inspirational quotes, using shorthand type to get across my point, and often being misinterpreted because I'm not so good at this new, abridged e-language yet. And eventually, perhaps consequently, I found myself unable to concentrate on my nightly reading, no matter how talented the writer or engaging the prose.

This inability to pay attention is not unique to me. I've noticed that at the college writing center, where I work, students' papers are often riddled with abridged language ("U" instead of "you") and half-developed thoughts. And I can't help but to think that this is a direct result of our fragmented attention spans, our adjustment to quick responses, quick news, quick contact... Who has time to read?

But here's the thing: After the past few days, I feel renewed. I feel mentally stimulated and able to write. I feel free from my short attention span, and even confident to return to social media on a restricted schedule. You see, good books might just be more valuable to our society than ever. They have a unique ability to release us, if only temporarily, from the fleeting satisfaction of instant gratification. Books slow us down.

Perhaps books--instead of becoming extinct at the hands of electronic media--will actually be treasured all the more, seen as even more of an escape from stress and a time to reflect. After my reading Oasis, I feel as though I admire books--their transcendent power--more than ever. Good books that is...

[My reading over this past week? "Lit" (see below) "Sky Below" "Beyond My Control" and "Without A Map" all very good books!]

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  1. Wow - great post. I'm jealous of all the time you found to read, and even more so of the result. You are an inspiration to readers everywhere - and with my few weeks off coming up, I'm making reading an absolutely priority. Here's hoping the results are similar to yours!

  2. I love to read books too, just my schedule is very hectic right now, but whenever I find a good book, I dive right into it. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. oho good dear !!!! very interesting blog and a good posting !!! you must maintain your blog, its interesting !!! Nice Buddy

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