How often do you pick up a book?
Every day? Once a week?
Can’t remember the last time?
I have always been a voracious reader, however around my family, it takes a bit of planning and creative thinking to find the time and make the space for it.
Ever since I learned to read, I have delighted in the ability to escape into another world and experience the adventures found within the pages of a book.
I vividly remember a visit to my primary school from the local librarian, who told us all about the library, how we could choose from hundreds of book to borrow for up to four weeks (I was irked to discover that my closest library only lent them out for three), and that it didn’t cost a penny. It was heavenly, especially when, aged nine, I was allowed to do the solo walk from my house to the village library and take my time perusing and choosing – I felt so grown up.
The reason I love reading so much, is because of the way I can see places, and process situations that I might not experience in my actual day to day life. I love being taken on the journey of a good story and coming out the other side with my heart changed and my understanding deepened. A good story, well told is a thing of beauty, and should speak of some hope or deep sense of compassion, and leave you different, richer and a slightly better person for experiencing it.
I can’t really use the library much anymore.
The challenge of getting my brood out on my own and maintaining them in the library space is just far too difficult, and my autistic middle two are almost guaranteed to at least rip – probably shred to pieces – any book we borrow, so that even if I managed to take the books back on time and avoid running up huge fines, it would be unlikely that they would even be intact to return.
That said, all four of my children love and enjoy stories (so long as I can keep them from ripping, bending and eating them), and I do miss the joy of being surrounded by available books.
The winter we lost our unborn baby daughter, I had no energy for much, and it was at this time that I discovered audio books in a big way through Audible membership. Surprisingly to me, I found real comfort and solace through listening to the teenage pain and grief of Harry Potter in the fifth book – The Order of the Phoenix.
Superbly read by Stephen Fry, I was able to lose myself in that other world, in which Harry’s experiences resonated with my own pain, and the effect was extremely cathartic.
Four years on, I still habitually re-listen to the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings (read excellently by Rob Inglis), about once every 12-18months, and each time I take away something subtly different.
I find that by listening to books, I can ‘read’ a great deal more in and around my hectic family life, than I would otherwise be able to do, as I can listen whilst I am washing up or sorting out laundry. As well as fiction, I am also able to stretch my mind lots and learn a whole load of new, or deeper, more complex ideas by listening to non-fiction.
I know no other way to have so broad an education – without a lifetime of travelling the world – and so deep a connection with my brothers and sisters from all walks of life.
Plus, listening to Dickens being well read, leaves me far freer and more able to take in the story, than when reading it myself – I find listening to books which feel too hard for my abilities, a wonderful way to give them another go.
Even if you don’t like it, you are another step clearer to knowing your own sense of taste, and the experience wont have been wasted.