Hi. My name is November and I have a problem (well, let’s admit it, I have a lot of problems) with reading. Yes, reading. Like reading books.
So, let me preface this with a quick analogy. Sometimes, we have habits or compulsions that we think make us weird. But then, you’ll be watching a vlogger, like Casey Neistat, talk about how he personalizes everything he owns, and you realize you’re not the only one who has the need to make things exclusively yours. Or you’ll be talking to a coworker about how you always eat green M&M’s first and they say, “No way, me too!” and suddenly this little compulsion makes you not seem so weird and maybe makes you feel like you belong to a community of like-minded green M&M eating, monogram sporting, people.
Well, I have yet to find a community of people who read the same way I do. Reading has forever been a part of my life. I had a bookshelf as an infant. Both of my parents are big readers. When I was little, we didn’t have a ton of money, but every time the Scholastic fair came to school my mom would take us, or send us with money, so we could get books. I had a library card as a kindergartner and I think it was third grade where they told me I was reading on a high school level.
Part of the reason I became so invested in reading was because I excelled in school. I was one of those ‘gifted’ standardized test takers. Regular school work was a breeze to me and because I was a quiet, non-disruptive, socially awkward kid, teachers often stuck me in the corner with a book when I’d finished with the mandatory workbook pages. Reading was always an escape. It wasn’t until fourth grade that I had a teacher decline allowing me to sit against the building with the children who were in trouble so I could read a book, it was a heartbreaking day. That same teacher beaned me with a dodgeball a few weeks later and it was back to the brick wall with a book for me.
Reading made it possible to escape at home too. Grocery shopping with a book. Dinner with a book. Ice rink with a book. Beach with a book. It literally made no difference to me where we went or what we were doing, I brought books and I read those books.
I think that it was my uninhibited exposure to the written word that made it so easy for me to read quickly. I finished books like they were newspaper articles. People would joke, saying there was no way I’d finished the book in a day. Teachers would question me, quizzing me on the content of the novels I’d claimed to have read (I always passed).
In elementary school I’d eventually read through all of the higher level novels the school carried and I was in a bit of a reading rut. In Minnesota, our libraries were bigger, we had access to the public library somehow (I don’t remember how, but I do remember walking to the public library as a part of a school group). Things were different in Florida. I was going through some of my mom’s boxes of things and stumbled across VC Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic.
If you’ve read it, then you know it’s not appropriate for a ten-year-old. However, the movie Stand By Me isn’t exactly appropriate for a ten-year-old and I’d already seen that movie a dozen times. My mom collected VC Andrews’ novels for some reason unbeknownst to me, but she gave me permission to read them and I quickly made my way through stack after stack of these novels, allowing the words to fill my lungs like air, unable to breathe without them.
(My fourth grade teacher confronted my mom about my adult reading habits and she pointed out that I was reading, what was she going to do, take books away from me?)
Some years later, I read books like Inkheart and the day after the seventh Harry Potter was released I read it in less than twenty-four hours (yeah, I’m still hella proud of that fact). I went through a vampire phase, ingesting The Vampire Diaries, and Vampire Kisses, while at the same time I was in the adult section, picking up The Blood Countess and The Vampire Chronicles.
High school was a weird time for me, making it hard to read the books I wanted to read and keep up with my school assignments. I had long bus rides to and from school, and that’s usually when I would stick my nose in a book. It was also this time where I gave up on teen novels and the only books I read for fun were romance novels. My best friend and I would usually read the same books and dissect them at the lunch table.
So, that’s my history with reading. Obviously, as an adult, I still read all the time. There are times where I kind of take a step back from reading but it’s usually so I can focus on writing. If I hit a rut with writing, I turn to reading.
Words have the ability to run like a movie in my head and I will never be able to get over that feeling.
Now, here’s where we come to the problem, the thing that makes me feel a little weird. I cannot put down a book until I’ve finished it. I get actual anxiety about putting down a book before I’ve finished reading it. If I get halfway through a book before bed and have to stop, I will dream about the story, I’ll dream up until where I stopped and then I wake up in a panic because I don’t know what happens next and I know that there’s more to be read. When the book ends, whether it’s on a cliffhanger or tied up with a pretty bow, I’m good. I just have to get to the end.
I’m not saying that I finish every novel I start, but it generally takes quite a bit for me to say, ‘eh, this one’s not for me.’ I’m here to ask the question, is anyone else like this? I’m hoping so because otherwise I should probably seek help for my reading addiction. It probably has something to do with depersonalization and disconnecting from my real life (things that should be handled in therapy) but I’m not willing to accept that until I know that I’m the only one who feels like this about books.
I devour books whole, sometimes getting through two or three in a day. I almost exclusively read romance novels, purely because I’m a sucker for a happily ever after and that’s a promise with each and every one of those novels. I’ve finally accepted that there’s no shame in romance novels and I’ve added my Goodreads profile to this blog so if you’re into contemporary romance you can see what I’ve recently read. Also, if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.
Alright, this was a lighthearted and heavy post at the same time, it actually took me almost a week to write and I spent two weeks convincing myself to post it. I read at least fifteen books in June and I said to myself, “Ya know, this isn’t exactly normal… I wonder if anyone else does this…”
I also love to write, obviously, and I’m going to work on another post, “On Writing.” and I’ll share more of those thoughts/feelings/habits over there.
(I couldn’t find any recent pictures of me reading, I also usually read on my phone or Kindle now so the photos would look more like I’m scrolling through social media.)
Until next time – Xx.