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Reading is a Gift

I love to read.

My earliest memories of my elementary years always involved me reading a book. As a child, I was painfully shy. More than that, I was extremely socially awkward and experienced anxiety in social situations. In any crowded area, like a cafeteria, or even in my classroom as a student, I remember opting to read my novels instead of engaging with another person. I used reading as a form of self-defense, a world I could enter without an invitation. Today, I am not socially awkward and I have definitely outgrown social anxiety. I can freely and comfortably speak in front of an auditorium full of people and I no longer use books as a shield. It is liberating.

My relationship with books has evolved over the years, as have my taste in reading material. I read to my daughters every day and as I re-read favorites from my childhood, I can see with adult eyes why I loved those stories then as much as I still do. These days, we will pour over a collection of Winnie the Pooh stories, and Hazel will gleefully point to Pooh disguised as a muddy rain cloud as I imitate the buzzing of the bees from the honey hive. I hope that they will love reading as much as I do.

As a practical matter, it is difficult for me to read a book independently with my daughters, I mean, a book intended for me. They will dive into my lap and tug at the pages. Hazel especially will inspect the book and will disregard it if there are no pictures. My work around with them is the use of audio books. While they play independently, I will recline on the chair and listen to book du jour. This has the added benefit of their listening to a book that will introduce them to adult vocabulary and subject matter. Do I expect them to get it? No, not really. But this enables me to enjoy more books throughout the day. Of course, I don’t play any audiobooks that would be inappropriate. These days, Hazel is my parrot, the great imitator, and she would be quick to repeat any word.

There are no limits with genre. I have a hunger for books and for the first time in a long time, I can satisfy this appetite with a steady stream of library books throughout the day from Libby (an excellent app that connects to your library once you have a membership). John Leguizamo said in his “Latin History for Morons” comedy special that his drug of choice is books. Today, it is mine as well. From fiction to history, from biographies to science, from children’s to young adult, from theology to philosophy, nothing is off limits. I want to read them all. So I juggle genres, learn about new topics, explore new settings, and consider voices from a plethora of perspectives.

What reading gives to me is not just knowledge. Even today, reading is a form of escape. Some people use television in this way, but for me, I can get lost in a book, fiction or nonfiction, and it opens my mind to new ideas. It helps me with my writing. I’ll generate ideas or get unstuck on projects. It gives me a freedom of release. It teaches me what I want to learn. It enables me to tap into emotions, to explore creative concepts, to find something I didn’t even know I lost. I may not use reading as a defense the way I did as a little kid, but I still use reading every day, and it brings me a sense of comfort and purpose.

V’s Book List for September 2020:

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

  • Resistance by Tori Amos

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear

  • More Myself by Alicia Keys

  • Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon

  • Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

  • Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman

  • Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline


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