I have this vivid memory of sitting on our living room couch at age 11, devouring the book Bridge to Terabithia while sobbing my eyes through an entire box of tissues. I’m sure my mom was glancing at me nervously from the kitchen and worrying that this was the beginning of the onslaught of adolescent emotions that would inevitably rear their ugly heads soon.
I’m sure my mom was glancing at me nervously from the kitchen and worrying that this was the beginning of the onslaught of adolescent emotions that would inevitably rear their ugly heads soon.
She may have been right, but it was also the beginning of a lifelong relationship with books. I’m sure I read things before that, but that’s the first time I remember completely escaping into a book and coming out somewhat confused and disoriented, wondering what time it was and if I had missed a meal somewhere along the way.
In the years that followed I would discover the wonderful world of Prince Edward Island, with its “Lover’s Lane” and “Vale of Tears,” and Anne, who would become my favorite protagonist of all time. (PSA if you’ve only ever seen the 1985 film – and don’t get me wrong, it’s fine – but you’re seriously missing out. There are 8 books about Anne, people. EIGHT. Read them immediately)
At an eighth-grade book fair, I would pick up Pride and Prejudice and immerse myself in Jane Austen for a season, followed by giddy viewings of the film adaptations with my mom.
In high school, I would be forced to read Crime and Punishment only to find that Russian Literature, while daunting, is actually completely amazing.
I remember sitting outside during my first semester at FSU, reading Bridget Jones’ Diary while eating my lunch and laughing so hard and loud people were looking at me like I was crazy.
I got my degree in English Literature and loved every minute of it, reading and reading to my heart’s content (although I somehow managed to be assigned On The Road THREE separate times and came away from college as more of an expert on the beat writers than I ever had any interest in being).
I love Harry Potter (I may have attended the 7th book release at midnight…in costume). I love The Chronicles of Narnia (which my daughter is now reading, giving me all the feels).
I…do NOT love The Lord of the Rings. I’m sorry guys. I know that’s pretty much heresy for a Christian, but I could not even with the endless descriptions of Middle Earth. Could. Not.
The list goes on and on. I am a lover of books. But, somehow, somewhere along the line it just…stopped happening. The reading for the sheer pleasure of reading dwindled into infrequent consumption of new books.
I’ve read, but not as easily or as often, and I can’t tell you how many books I haven’t finished or have gotten from the library only to return unopened 3 weeks later (or 4…I’m notoriously late with my library returns).
For a while, I blamed it on the craziness of motherhood. I mean what mom has time to read anyway? It’s not like I have time to sit around with a book during the day! And even if I tried, the cacophony of little people voices would make it completely impossible.
But recently I think I’ve identified the actual source of this difficulty doing one of my favorite things, and it’s not my kids or my busy schedule or anything like that. No, the hindrance to my happy reading life is MY STUPID SMART PHONE.
Somewhere in my house one of my kids just heard me type that and whispered, wide-eyed, “MOM SAID STUPID.”
But seriously guys, that is the truth of the matter. I have time to read. I do. Not every day, but most. I get up early, before my kids. I have a stack of books by my bed and could certainly squeeze in a few chapters before I succumb to exhaustion.
But it occurred to me as I was sitting in bed trying to read a few nights ago that my phone was right next to me, beckoning me to check my email or read a blog post or scroll through Instagram photos or text a friend something funny I’d thought of. That my concentration level has diminished because I’m so used to flitting from one thing to the next with little need for depth of thought or focus.
Well, I’m not taking that lying down, smartphone. You can’t take my love of books away from me. It’s a little late in the game but I’m making a NEW new years resolution. This year I will love to read again.
So here’s the plan, and if you find yourself in the same boat with your evil siren of a cell phone, you can join along and we’ll see how it goes.
I will read at least 30 minutes per day. I will stick my phone in a drawer and refuse to even acknowledge it’s presence for the entirety of that 30 minutes. That 30 minutes is for me and my book, and the phone is not invited.
As an aside, this is one of many problems that result from the constant presence of a phone, but there are many wonderful, positive things I enjoy because of it as well. As with all things in life, we ought to learn how to receive it with thanksgiving and discard any aspect of it which cannot be received in such a way.
But right now I’m mad at my phone and it is not welcome. Goodbye mindless cell phone scrolling, hello loving to read again.
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