More a reader than a writer

Over the holidays I was chatting with a writer at a party. She asked if I was a writer too, and I told her I used to write a lot, but that I’d become more of a reader. And then she asked me a question I’ve been rolling around in my mind ever since. “What do you do with what you read?” I stumbled then, and said something about internalizing the stories and escaping in them. What do I do with the stories I read? Why do I read them and why at such a voracious pace? And again, what do I do with the stories I read?

At the moment, between listening to an audio book on my commute to and from work, and reading print and e-books, I’m averaging two to three books a week. I haven’t always been a reader. As a child I pretty much refused to learn how to read and didn’t really, truly become a reader until middle school. I read some phenomenal things, and I read some things that I could have passed by. But even when wrapped in a story that isn’t what I was looking for, oh the joy. Even a mediocre tale can give me joy and sadness and every emotion in between. For a time, I’m somewhere else. And I guess that’s the why – I love to be engrossed in a story that isn’t mine. It’s my form of escapism.

But the what. I’d like to think that if I’d chosen a different path I could have been some sort of professional reader, to do something bigger with my reading. Alas, I’m here. I do use what I read to help me as a librarian, but in my current job not as much as I’d like. For now, I’ll have to answer this question with hope. What I do with what I read happens entirely in my mind and soul. I hope that I learn and grow from the people between the thousands of pages I consume. I hope that my mind expands and becomes more open to the variances of life. I hope that reading helps me to be a better person.

So. What do you do with what you read?

Over a year

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Photo by Amsterdam Museum

It’s been over a year since I’ve last posted. And so much has changed, and so much has stayed the same. The words have begun to back up, so here goes.

I started a new book today (TransAtlantic, Colum McCann) that begins with a quote that really got me thinking. It’s been stuck in my mind all day. “No history is mute. No matter how much they own it, break it, and lie about it, human history refuses to shut its mouth. Despite deafness and ignorance, the time that was continues to tick inside the time that is,” Eduardo Galeano. There are so many things happening, big things that will shift our future and rise up in our past for examination, that can be looked at through the filter of these words.

“The time that was continues to tick inside the time that is.” A short list: gay marriage, climate change, economic recovery (or non-recovery depending on your outlook), unemployment, women’s rights, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, Syria, Egypt, healthcare, immigration, and the list goes on. I don’t particularly care what side of the issue(s) you land on right now. But look up at that quote again, and then look at this list. We are fighting the same fights over and over again. Some of these issues have existed since man first began to organize communities. Many people are very upset at the state of our nation, and by extension, the human condition. And rightly so. There is anger and despondency to name a few, and I suppose what I’m aiming at is a little bit of hope for those feeling this way. Keep believing, and keep working towards whatever goal you have. Help your friends, family, neighbors, and total strangers when you can. In the long run, wherever we end up, history will refuse to shut its mouth. Perhaps I’m┬ánaive, but the thought gives me hope.