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?