When I was a kid, if you’d asked me if I liked to read, the answer would have been no. However, a more accurate way to describe it would be to say that I liked to listen. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mom reading to me at bedtime. We read Edgar Allen Poe, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Nancy Drew series (The Secret of the Old Clock still stands out in my mind). And dinosaur books…lots of nonfiction paleontology.
When I was a newlywed in my early twenties, I worked at a public library. I would come home from work on Monday nights with a stack of 10-12 books and finish them by the end of the week. I wasn’t a parent yet, and for the first time in my life I was no longer a student, so I had my evenings to myself for once.
I read everything. I read classics that I’d somehow missed like Anna Karenina and Dracula. I read Brat Pack fiction (Bret Easton Ellis and company), Joyce Carol Oates, travel guides, and every installment in a cheesy mystery series the name of which I can’t remember. I read so much that I kept lists: lists of books I’d already read, lists of books I’d seen at the library and wanted to remember for the future.
Then I became a mom. The idea of spending my free time diving head-first into a book seemed laughable. When I did have time to myself, I spent it drinking wine in front of the TV, watching some vapid reality show because the act of critical thinking seemed like too much of a strain. I was just so tired.
I read a book here and there, but not with the ferocity with which I’d read before. In fact, I didn’t start reading again on a regular basis until we moved to Las Vegas and my daughter started school.
Although I certainly haven’t rekindled my pre-parenthood pace, I do carve out time to read at least a few times per week. What have I been reading lately? I read A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates sometime last fall, and I just finished her Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong a few weeks ago. Other recent reading included a collection of short stores called USA Noir and Jenny Offill’s novel Dept. of Speculation, both of which I really enjoyed. Next up, I’d love to try Offill’s first book.
My taste in books has changed…and yet it hasn’t. Isn’t Joyce Carol Oates a logical next step for a kid who grew up listening to Poe?
What have you read lately?