I've been accused of being addicted to reading. Like other kinds of addicts, I've resorted to sneaking and cheating to satisfy my addiction.
- When I was in first grade, I had a ridiculous 7:30 PM bed time. I got into bed, pulled the blanket over my head, and read with a flashlight.
- Later, maybe in third grade, when my technical skills improved, I came up with a better solution. I put a bright light bulb in my bedroom closet and it was bright enough to illuminate a book when I was in bed. I attached a long string to the pull-chain that controlled the light, and put a tennis ball at the end of the string. When I heard my parents approach, I yanked the string to shut off the light, and tossed the tennis ball and string into the closet to hide the evidence, and made believe I was asleep.
- The ultimate evolution of my scam occurred around sixth grade. I installed a photoelectric cell in the garage, aimed outward. If my parents were out for the evening, and then came home when I was supposed to be asleep, the car's headlights would trigger the photocell which then rang a bell in my bedroom -- so I could shut off my light and shut my eyes.
- Later on, my parents didn't care how late I stayed up, and I often read until midnight, and started again around 4 AM.
- In my senior year in high school, my English teacher required us to read and report on one book each month, with a bonus if we could read one book each week. I half-jokingly asked her what would happen if I did one a day. She half-jokingly said she'd give me an "A." I read the books, wrote the (short) reports, and got my "A."
- When I was in college, I was still building book shelves a week before I was going to move out of my apartment and go to New York to be a magazine editor. (Assistant editor, actually.)
I order books from Amazon at least once a week, and buy at my local Barnes & Noble at least twice a month. I also download ebooks.
I'm a fast reader, but I can't possibly read fast enough to keep up with the inflow. Even if I stopped buying new books, I probably won't live long enough to read all of my old books.
Even worse, for some inexplicable reason, I stopped reading books a while ago. I have no idea how or why. It just happened. I also stopped smoking a pipe shortly after I got married in 1971, and no longer ski or SCUBA dive. I also watch fewer movies.
I missed reading the most, but somehow just could not get in the mood until the beginning of this year. I restarted with The Brothers Emanuel by brother Zeke. I've been reading it mostly on my smart phone, and occasionally on a PC or Kindle. I like being able to switch from device to device.
The cave now functions as my Main Reading Room. The Library of Congress has a Main Reading Room, so why shouldn't I?
It has an extremely comfortable leather loveseat (a stupid term for furniture in a man cave), a blue blankie if I feel the need to cover up, and a table next to the man couch that holds a tall lamp that can be aimed right at whatever I'm reading. The table ($9 at Ikea -- I bought three of them) also holds a phone, my iPad and Kindle Fire, some books, a bunch of bookmarks, a red pen for marking things that piss me off, and a few of my remote controls. It's also a good place to keep my reading glasses. The john and the fridge are just a few steps away.
In a reversal of my parents' reading curfew, I've instituted a mandatory reading period, from 6:30 to 7:30 AM three days a week. It's almost 6:33 now, so I'll soon stop typing and move over to my man couch.
Today I expect to start The Jews of Prime Time by David Zurawik. Or maybe I'll start Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean. Or maybe something else. It's nice to live in a library. It's nice to be the acquisitions librarian.