You know what I did on Saturday? I read a book, an entire book, all damn day. That’s all I did. I mean, I’m pretty sure I ate something and I peed a few times. I think I fed the cats, but other than that all I did was read. One time Little One popped his blonde head into my bedroom. I unstuck my nose from the book pages long enough to ask him, “Have you eaten?” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I think so”, and then ran out. That was good enough for me, back to the book I went.
I didn’t do any laundry or wash a dish. There were ungodly mounds in the litter box that went ignored. I had physical therapy “homework” that didn’t get done. I was just splayed out on my bed furiously turning pages and giggling like a mental patient, and I felt like a loser.
What a loser!
When did this happen? When did lying around and doing nothing but reading a good book become a bad thing?
When I was younger I plowed through books with ease. Wasting an entire day reading a book was the ultimate accomplishment. Granted, I didn’t excel at either academics or sports, so really what else was I going to do? I would read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in its entirety, close the book and need only a millisecond to decide that I was going to crack it open and read it all over again.
I didn’t have kids then. Hell, I didn’t have a period then, or a license, or a mortgage. Life was pretty simple. I’d wake up, brush my teeth, get beaten up by one of my 5 siblings, and spend the rest of the day reading a book cover to cover. My parents really didn’t care. Well, my mom didn’t care. She got it. She loved books. My dad just thought I was lazy, but that’s basically what he thought of all of us all the time. Especially when he was sitting in his naugahyde recliner watching Benny Hill reruns.
When I was a kid and wasted a day reading The Stranger by, Albert Camus, the only hard part was figuring out what the hell I had just read. Pronouncing the author’s name proved to be a touch difficult as well. I found that out the hard way, years later, when my then boyfriend set me straight.
Me: I’ve read The Stranger by, Al-Bert Cam-Us.
Boyfriend: *stifled laughter* Um, it’s Al-Bear Cam-Moo.
Well this was the early nineties, so I probably said “tubular” or something like that, but that’s almost exactly how it went.
The last book I read for hours on end, only stopping to breathe occasionally, was Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. Husband bought it for me before he set off to travel to Churchill Downs with his brothers to spread their father’s ashes at the finish line, the most fitting resting spot for a jockey. Teen was young then, under 2 if I recall correctly, so our days were pretty simple and dotted with nap times. All I did on that cold, dreary day was care for my baby, drink Irish tea, and read the ever loving hell out of that book. Oh, and cry, cry, cry. Don’t let the title fool you, Angela’s Ashes is not found in the humor section of your local bookstore.
Life tends to get a little more hectic when your kid doesn’t sleep all day, so being able to do nothing but read a book was pretty much over after that. I remember reading Memoirs of a Geisha by, Arthur Golden, but that may have taken a week or more. Then I went through a Joseph Campbell phase, a Buddhism phase, but it was always in bits and pieces. I was constantly trying to come up with ways to mark the part of the chapter I had stopped at because I never seemed to have enough time to finish a full chapter. The ultimate sadness would be when so much time had lapsed between putting down and picking up the book I would have to start over completely.
Then a couple of weeks ago I picked up Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman. It was so genius I never wanted to put it down, but this life thing of mine kept getting in the way, so sometimes I had to. I would read it at every spare, dull moment of my life, in doctors’ waiting rooms, in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school, standing in the kitchen waiting for the pasta water to boil. I was reading it once while on the stationary bike at physical therapy while simultaneously trying to figure out how to read it while doing my other exercises. I never did figure it out.
Moran’s book kick-started my girl power phase. I couldn’t find Tina Fey’s Bossypants at the library, but I did find The Bloggess’ book. I was hooked from the first sentence and my crack habit was back with a vengeance, only this time it felt a little bit dirty, like when you find yourself reading the entire 50 Shades trilogy and you’re not doing it for the laughs. Not that I ever did that, oh heavens no. I have standards. (Actually I did do that. I have no standards, you should know that by now.)
I can’t figure out if feeling like a loser by wasting a day reading is a sign of maturity or a weakness that I should have beaten out of me. Even though I understand that I have bigger, more important fish to fry these days, I’m kind of a little bit sad that I can’t do this more often. I wonder if I will ever look at spending an entire day inhaling a book as an achievement again. I imagine the only chance I will have for that feeling to return is when cats develop the ability to feed themselves and my children are old enough that CPS can’t be called when I fail to care for them. Oy. Well it was nice while it lasted.