Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading

My room has always had an invisible sign on the door:

Stay Out, I’m Reading.

When I got in trouble as a kid, my parents had to find somewhere else to send me because getting sent to my room wasn’t really punishment. I would just spend the time I was supposed to be thinking about what I’d done with my nose in a book and not thinking about my transgressions at all.

Much to my parents’ dismay, I haven’t changed much in the 22 years since then. Books have always been my escape.

What’s the last book you dove into with whatever you equate with fierce abandon?

Was it a sappy romance novel you started on your morning commute and finished on your evening commute while sneaking pages here and there throughout the business day? (guilty)

Was it when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finally arrived on your doorstep, and you stayed up all night to finish its 766 pages?

I did that too but it WAS NOT my fault! Stupid UPS put it in my mailbox instead of delivering it to my door, and I didn’t know it was there until late in the afternoon!

I love a good book I can really sink my teeth into – or a good series. No one ever wanted to travel with me as a teenager because I carted more than one suitcase full of clothing with me. I also brought along a duffelbag full of books. I just couldn’t be without them. What if I ran out of something to read? What if I wanted to read that particular passage of that particular book right now? What would I do? 

This was in the days before Kindles or even smartphones so I really didn’t have much of a choice, did I?

It’s a little bit harder (and a little bit easier) now that I’m an adult. I mean, we live in the Digital Age, right? I don’t have to travel with just one book to make luggage weight anymore.

I actually left the house the other day without a book in my purse. I didn’t realize it until I was halfway to the subway stop, and I was already running late, so I just didn’t have time to run back and grab the one I had so carefully laid out next to my things that morning. I had to venture into my day without papers bound in glue and cardboard to distract me from the swirling masses of humanity around me on the trains.

But don’t fear! I survived. A few months ago, I had downloaded a few books to my phone that I had seen recommended on Twitter or Tumblr over the course of a day. I was saved! I sat happily on the train and started a novel I could barely remember with a super sappy title. I didn’t notice when we crossed the river and were in Manhattan, and I nearly missed my subway stop. I read standing in line for my coffee. I read while I ate lunch. I read the whole way home.

Reader, I finished that book long before I turned out the light that night.

I have never been able to define what it is about a book that makes it “un-put-downable” but I usually know by about ten pages in whether or not what I’m reading is going to be a book I obsess over in the end. I’m not ashamed to admit that there was a time when Twilight was one. Once I got started I inhaled everything Harry Potter but I am still slogging through A Casual Vacancy months after its release. Likewise, I cannot seem to sink my teeth into 1Q84 with any more obsession than the occasional foray into its odd world. I bought it the week it came out, in hardcover, and am barely at the halfway point.

Some books are a sprint. Some books are a marathon. It’s not something I always know when I sign up for the race. While frustrating, it can also be incredibly rewarding when I dive into something I am expecting to not love or am expecting will take me weeks because I’m familiar with the writer’s style, and then his characters or plot are so wonderful and engaging that I can’t put it down.

It’s like dating. Will I like him? Will we talk all evening and not even notice that the bar/coffee shop/restaurant is cleaning up around us? Will I be texting my girlfriends for a rescue phone call ten minutes in because it’s so awkward or horrible?

Who knows. Gotta give that book a chance.

What are you reading now? Do you think you’re in it for the long haul or are you just flirting?

Feature Image via Etsy

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