Reading in Foolish Ways and Places

There’s nothing like cleaning up a seldom-used room for turning up forgotten photographs.  A small pile of candid shots were dislodged as I was re-shelving some books  and drifted toward the rug. My husband picked up this one and handed it back to me with a smile saying, “Is there a reason I never see you read while you’re sitting in a chair?  No, there probably isn’t  except that after thirty years of marriage, he should know that reading isn’t a chair-limited activity to me.  In fact, some of my best reading is in unlikely places.

I am grateful no photos exist of me reading in the tub but that’s not from lack of opportunity.  Tub-reading has always seemed like the height of luxury to me, since it combines words with relaxing in water.  Of course it requires skill to keep the water-soluble print from the H2O (especially if shampoo is involved) but this is one I hone with regular practice.  Outside of this, the only difficulty with tub-reading depends on the hot water supply.  In a good scene, there is never enough.

I have been known to read in the car although never as a driver while the vehicle was in motion.  (That’s my story, Officer, and I’m sticking to it.)  As a passenger, reading a traditional format book over the bumps and turns usually gave me motion sickness and I avoided car-reading for years.  E-readers have solved that problem, although I couldn’t say why, and audiobooks are a blessing but there are times when a traditional book must be read and a car is the only option.  Once was the 16th of July, 2005, the night Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published.  Like so many, I had fallen in love with J. K. Rowling’s creation and set aside my phobia of crowds to pick up the novel at its midnight release.  Once the bells rang at midnight, the bunch of us surged to purchase our books and then out in the parking-lot, green and purple volumes clutched to our chests.  Parents boosted over-excited and tired children into car-seats, fastened seat belts and peeled out of the parking lot. Exhausted book-sellers closed up the store.  Everyone was eager to get back to comfort, except me.  I sat in my Jeep with the windows rolled down and the interior light on, reading the first chapter while I slapped at marauding mosquitoes.  Only after I knew how the story began could I drive the twenty miles towards home.

In the end, the need to find a place to read is more about word-addiction than site.  To plow through a 250 page story on a smart phone screen that only shows 32 words at a time shows the same demented focus as reading during a migraine with a hand clapped over one eye – the damn fool reader doesn’t know when or how to put the book down.  Well, that’s me, guilty on both counts.  So if you see some dare-devil risking his or her life with their face stuck in a book, feel a little compassion.  That’s not a risk-taker enjoying the setting, just one more fool addicted to words.

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