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At the Helm: Getting back into reading

 

With summer just around the corner, my thoughts turn to more relaxing ways to occupy my time.

Top on my list is, reading. (You thought I was going to say sleeping, ha!)

I used to read lots of books – all kinds: fiction, non-fiction, you name it. I spent thousands of hours during my childhood summers with a book in hand, parked under a tree, on the couch, at the library or in the car. 

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed reading until recently, when I started finding my 9-year-old daughter Alia reading – in a tree, on the bed, one the couch, in the car and in the bathtub.

I kid you not about the bathtub. One recent evening Alia was taking a bath, but instead of busily scrubbing the dirt off her feet, washing her hair and splashing around, she was quietly reading a book. All I could see from the doorway were her feet sticking out of the tub at one end and her hands holding a book above the water close to her face at the other end. She would have stayed in there for hours if we had let her.

Mornings before school, Alia eschews TV for a book. On the way to school she asks me to keep the radio off so she can read her book during the eight minutes it takes to get to there.

She begs to stay up past her bedtime to read “just one more page.”

Her current favorite is a series of fiction books called “Warriors.” The series of 300-plus-page novels follows the wild adventures of four Clans of wild cats in their forest homes. When she’s not reading the books, she’s using her active imagination to act out fantasies based on the characters.

Alia’s love affair with reading is awesome, annoying and inspiring. It reminds me of how much I enjoyed reading as a child and how little I’m reading these days. My current reading activities primarily consist of scanning articles in newspapers and occasional magazines, and the most recent postings on Facebook.

In fact, now that I think of it, I spend an awful lot of time on the Internet, doing my reading there, I suppose, checking for the latest news and entertainment. 

When did I stop reading books? It certainly didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow, insidious process, I suspect. One that I hope to reverse this summer.

Using Alia has a positive role model, I’m going to become an avid reader again. I’ll visit the library often and borrow books. Fiction. Non-fiction. You name it. I’m going to turn off the TV and computer more often and read on the couch, the back deck or in the car (not while driving, mind you).

Heck, I might even try reading in the bathtub. 

I don’t necessarily need to go to the library. We have plenty of books in our house. Perhaps I will revisit the world of Tolkien’s hobbits, Steven King’s nightmares or Piers Anthony’s magical realm known as Xanth. We also have some classics – Melville’s Moby Dick, anyone? – and autobiographies of fascinating people – Hitler, Jim Morrison and the Beatles.

Books on tape or CD? Tried it a few times, never got into it. E-books? My wife loves her Kindle, but I don’t know if I’m ready to give up printed books.

So that’s the plan this summer. More reading. I can already envision blissful summer afternoons, sitting on the back deck, under a tree or on the hammock, reading a good book with the rest of the family.

I used to be an avid reader – and doggone it, I can be one again.

Now, where’s my library card?

 

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