Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reading Reflections: Reading Like a Child

I've been thinking of the piece Michelle Slatella wrote for The New York Times a couple of years ago a lot these last couple of days since my nieces have been visiting. She wrote about the unreserved way in which her children read books, unhindered by the critical mind, able to lose themselves entirely in story.

I've completely enjoyed watching my nieces love the Harry Potter series these past few days. Ridiculously, I felt a pang of envy watching my seven year old niece tear through the first half of the second Harry Potter book, reluctant to put it down to join in the real world, even as we went shopping, I knew her mind was still caught up in the world of Hogwarts.

Reading as an adult is such a different experience. Reading as a book blogger just complicates things further. There are times when I remember barely knowing what was out there, now I feel like I have so many choices, so many things I want to read, I can't choose one. Even today as I settled down to read a memoir written by one of my favorite bloggers, the work of the week caught up to me and I fell asleep exhausted and unable to get past a few chapters.

In fiction, I have little patience for the suspension of disbelief to begin, even books I'm pretty sure I would have loved at one time remain unread past a few pages. I can still talk books with the best of them, I'm just not reading for myself.

Sometimes I'd like to feel it again for just a minute, that compulsion to keep reading. But, I feel like I'm in detox after overdosing on books, book talk, and knowledge of the publishing industry. A book never feels like just a book anymore.

They say children give us hope in this world. Their innocence, their young faith, their fresh discovery of the world around them. Their bright eyed wonder sparks something inside of us that motivates us through the dark and seemingly endless sameness of days. And this week I've felt that in regards to my reading life. Watching my nieces love one of the stories I've loved best, observing their tiny frames bent over the huge books, devouring the words, expanding their worlds, seeing the tattered well worn oft read books scattered everywhere they've's been a jolt of energy to the weary reader inside of me. It gives me hope that one day I will recapture the ability to read and lose myself in the wonder of story. It has me turning once again to the stacks of books in my life and seeing them for the possibilities they are.


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