Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wandery Wednesday: "Words, Words, Words..."

As a kid, I read an average of five books a day. In tech school, I read a book every night or two. In college, not counting assigned reading, I read a book every week or so. Up until recently, I wasn't reading books at all. What happened to me? Why did I slow down? 

Well... The books I read got longer, and the time I had to read them in got shorter. That's one major reason. Not only that, but I began reading books--for class, mostly, at first--which required me to think. You can't just dash through As I Lay Dying in a couple hours, as much as I wanted to at the time. (Side note: "A Rose For Emily" is the only piece of writing by Faulkner worth reading). The text expects that you think about what it contains, and professors expect that as well. So that slowed me down as well. Having to think will do that to you. I think... 

And that habit carried right over into my personal reading. Even with a fluffier book like The Hunger Games or a pulp Conan the Barbarian short, I started contemplating themes and meanings more, letting imagery sink in. I think it's fair to say that, looking back on books I read as a child, very few moments or ideas stick out to me. Where The Red Fern Grows, certainly. The first book to make me cry. The death of Qui-Gon Jinn's lover in one of the Star Wars young adult novels. The first time I read The Lord of the Rings, and the foods I ate as I read. The Gregor the Overlander series, and the deep aching sadness I felt at their conclusion, which jazz can still evoke. (It's a long story, but jazz features heavily in the books, and I listened to jazz while reading them. Okay, it's not a long story). Perhaps one or two more. But not many. There was no meat to them. They were only words, words, words.

Now, I'm not saying that everything I read now is Descarte, or Jose Saramago's Blindness, or whatever the Important Book du jour is. But more are. And that brings down the average. And maybe that's a good thing. Fewer books, but with more heft, more ideas, more...something. Something that sets them apart. An ethos. A message. A theme. A really funny joke. Something. Anything. Not just cotton candy promises of enjoyment. 

Words, words, words. Though they be madness, yet let there be a method to them.