I’m getting all kinds of interesting holidays on my planner. Last week was National Planner Day. This week it’s Book Lover’s Day.
I feel like I have spent the summer writing about my love of books. I can’t even be around people holding books without wanting to take them out of their hands just to see what it is they’re reading. This makes airport travel awkward. Who’s that weird lady staring at me while I read? I go to bookstores when I am sad or lonely. I purchase books in pairs or quartets. When I go on vacations, I always find a bookstore to visit – or, to be fair, I make Hubs find me one. In Boston this summer we went to at least three bookstores, and at each location, I walked out with a book to read.
Books create a sense of safety and stability. I can walk around with this world in my hands. I love the feel of books. I love the fresh, unbroken stiffness of a new book and I love the malleable, dogeared flexibility of an old book.
I like to read on the go and on the fringes. I keep a book with me and like to read on my breaks and in my downtime – while waiting for a child’s sports practice to end, while eating lunch or snacks in the office, while on a plane, while by the pool, while on the beach.
Writers read. It’s one of the tenants of being a writer. It’s like viewing game tape – you have to see how it’s done in order to do it yourself. Sometimes I will be so immersed in one author that my own writing will mimic their voice. But when I am immersed in my own story and writing, I end up reading less and less. It’s a time issue more than anything. However, once a fellow writer told me they were so paranoid of accidental plagiarism, they refused to read anything “new” out of concern that they would copy them. Instead, they would reread the classics and old favorites, but for the most part, tried not to read at all.
I binge-read. Still on the fringes, but compulsively. I’ll get hooked on a theme, a genre, a writer, or a vibe and consume everything I can associate with it. One winter I read only novels and memoirs about mental illness. In the spring I binge on self-help books. I’ll get hooked into cottage-core books about farms and big kitchens around Christmas, or one year I only read ghost stories.
But none of these binges are what anyone would consider “popular” or “new”. I often find myself at a loss for words when people ask me if I have read the new hot book. I haven’t. I’ve yet to read any Colleen Hoover or any of the Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine selections. I never have. As I get older, that connection with the new and now gets weaker and weaker. I like what I like in the moment and sometimes that book’s moment passed years ago. It’s not just books but also movies, TV series, games, fitness routines, and vacation spots. The frustrating part of that is when I finally get around to enjoying something, it’s so over that no one wants to talk about it.
But that’s kind of the fun part, too. I get to discover something once the newness and the hotness wear off of it. I’m not clouded by others addressing how great or awful something is.
And with books, it’s fun to find something old and neglected. This is why I love used bookstores. At a used bookstore, especially in the clearance section, you can see the books from other eras in time – the trends, the popular names that have been nearly forgotten, and a time period’s book cover themes. Does anyone else remember the soft-sepia colors of women’s fiction in the 2000s? The chick-flick-marketed books for stories that were neither frothy nor fun? The many Suzane Sommers anti-aging books?
For me, reading season kicks off in September, which is why I think it’s interesting that Book Lover’s Day is in August. Come September the super-book-enthusiasts will lean in with more images of stacks of books and huge cups of tea on their social media platforms. They are the ones who read the new hot books. They are the ones who make reading seem romantic, cozy, beautiful, and relaxing.
I’m looking forward to all of these images and hope to post a few of my own. But I’ll probably be reading some old copy of some Joyce Carol Oates novel from the 90s or an old Ann Rule true crime book that I scored at a yard sale. Who knows what I will discover between now and then?
**Local Atlantian friends and neighbors**, be on the lookout for my upcoming workshop titled “Oh the Drama: A Creative Non-Fiction Writing Workshop”. This workshop focusing on writing memoirs and personal drama will be held at the East Cobb Library in Marietta on Sept. 9 from 11 am to 3 pm.
Read Books! Wear boots!