Friday, April 18, 2008

I have a fever.

I have a fever and the only cure seems to be more reading.

I've always enjoyed reading. I'm not sure if the contests I entered in elementary school were national or regional, but I know that they were a wonderful incentive. Some awarded personal pan pizzas from the Hut while another gave ice cream and hamburgers from Braum's. Wouldn't it be amazing if there were reading incentives for adults? Imagine how books would fly off the shelves if Best Buy offered 30% off coupons for reading 3,000 pages. Or consider Jamba Juice stamp cards that reward a free smoothie for every other book you read. Someone should get on this, if for no other reason than the sake of my brother who reads once a year.

My friend Becca doesn't enjoy reading fiction. I don't understand and cannot comprehend what that world feels like. We went on a trip to Florida a few years ago to rest after 12 weeks of working at summer camp. I piled Garrison Keillor, J.K. Rowling, and other favorites into my crowded suitcase. Becca tried. I watched her carry a work of fiction down to the beach every morning as she tried in vain to get past the first 4 chapters. She explained to me that deep down inside she feels fiction is a waste of time. So instead, she brought out some light reading, John Piper, to enjoy our little vacation.
I on the other hand, have to add non-fiction to my diet as if it were green leafy vegetables. I enjoy a good memoir or biography, but cannot sit for hours on end in heavy theology or even philosophy. Like green beans, I eat them at the start of a meal with large doses of diet coke to bribe myself to continue. I do not find non-fiction to be a waste of time, but I do mainly crave the carbs I find in a fictional story.

So here's my real problem. I'm currently reading 4 books and listening to another on CD in the car. I'm not mixing my stories, or unable to follow along. My diet this week contains a memoir, a work of non-fiction, a light-hearted piece of fiction, and a dose of spiritual encouragement. This doesn't sound like much of an issue, until you look and see what's awaiting me in my reading chair. It's as if someone has dropped off a bag of candy and I have to continue reminding myself to eat my vegetables and wait for dessert until I've finished everything already on my plate. The desserts awaiting me were selected from the library on Sunday. I'm not entirely certain what compelled me to do so, but I left with too many books. My book selections are not like 2nd grade where I could easily see myself getting through all 15 books in the allotted check out time. When will I possibly find time to read the 5 awaiting me? (For some reason I have an aversion to renewing my books. I take this to be a form of weakness. My goal is to finish everything by the original due date.)

Going to the library is just as thrilling for me as going to a cookie and sweets shop is for most of my co-workers. I see that gleam in their eye as they suggest a quick run to Paradise Bakery, or to obtain cookie dough from the kitchen at work. I plan my library visits days in advance. I make my selections deliberately, often picking books off the shelf, walking around with them for an hour, only return them for another time. I've only one book and two dvds to return to the library this afternoon, but I'm already having to give myself a stern talking to. "No more new books until you finish these...unless you find a really good one*."

Currently Reading:
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
In This Mountain by Jan Karon
unChristian by David Kinnaman

On Deck in the Reading Chair:
Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani
More Women Travel edited by Natania Jansz and Miranda Davies
A Year of Reading by Elisabeth Ellington and Jane Freimiller, Ph. D.

* Recommendations welcome! Maybe I need more potassium in my diet.


Hilary said...

I do the same thing! I just finished 2 books though, so my count is down to 3 at once, but I'm sure I'll start something else soon. I'm reading "A Long Way Gone" too, like it. You convinced me to read "The Shack" too. How is Brysons Africa book? Miss you friend! Are you coming up this way anytime soon?

Anonymous said...

Ah, me. A child after my own heart! I have 2 books going and 1 on CD. But my pile waiting for me is too, too many. I laughed out loud as I read this. BIG CHERRY HOLLER needs to be read FIRST, as you will read it the fastest!! And I have no qualms whatsoever about renewing as many times as possible and then paying the fine as I keep the book just a little over my alloted time. Shame on me! -m.