Obligation 2: Read For Pleasure

I am a glutton. I’ve never had much of a problem with my weight. I enjoy food, cookies especially, but I mostly know when to stop.

My great weakness, the thing I must have, the thing I sometimes sacrifice my family, my sleep, my sanity for, is a good book.

I’ve been known to burn dinner because I couldn’t put a book down long enough to pay attention. The timer is beeping away in the kitchen, but I can’t pull myself out of Narnia, Middle Earth, or Alagaesia. Potatoes boiling all over the stove, biscotti turning black, the smoke alarm wailing.

I am a glutton.

I remember discovering Diana Gabaldon’s Scottish time-travel saga. I began devouring her words with Outlander, continued on to Dragonfly in Amber, and became very nasty for several weeks until my library finally had Voyager in stock. Don’t even get me started about having to wait until she wrote the next installment.

I have sacrificed my sleep more often than I care to recall. Dragging myself through a day, trying not to be cranky with my family, waiting for the night so I can do it all over again.

I am a glutton.

When my son was a wee one, completely dependent on me, requiring my constant attention every moment of the day and much of the night as well, I looked forward to the weekends. My husband was at home, on duty with baby, and I could disappear mentally for a few hours to read. The first four books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire were my constant companions for one long, rainy winter. Monday through Friday: doting, completely aware mother. Saturday and Sunday: book glutton.

Mea culpa family. This is the true confession of a glutton.

As my son grew older, we’d share afternoons full of books. We’d curl up on the same sofa and read a book together, or sit on neighboring chairs and read our separate books. We’d share funny or exciting passages from the books we were enjoying. We’d replenish our supply before it got too low. When you’re a glutton, you prepare for famine.

Now, my son is seldom without a book. He drops them in the bathtub, forgets them in the backyard, litters the floor of our family car with them. He reads them over, and over, and over again.

Parents, be careful what you model. Your children may become book gluttons too.

(This post was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s lecture at The Reading Agency.)