“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I’ve been clearing out and selling some of my books. I thought I’d be sad but, in a strange way, I’ve felt liberated. Reborn. Most of these books occupy a particular genre and are well past their sell-by date and (at least to me) don’t have much value. By the end of the year I hope to have whittled things down to those books I want to read again or those that I started and never finished (there have been too many of those!).
I don’t know about you, but I love to read. I was lucky that it was something I picked up very young — and have never looked back. I can’t say, unlike my musical tastes, it’s very eclectic and there are many classics that I’ll probably never read — there’s not enough time. As long as I’m able, reading will remain a major part of my life.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this, and I’m not known for hyperbole, but reading has done more to influence and change me than any other practice. It’s not one book either that has made its mark but a gaggle of influences spread over many years.
Of course, reading isn’t for everyone. I only have to look at my kids to know that but I’d much prefer to have a book recommended to me than spend hours on Google trying to decipher what the hell’s going on.
Also, I often wonder why I’ve done the things I’ve done — it’s an age thing — and reading is no different. I wonder (in particular) what might have happened if: a) I took English more seriously and studied it instead of Law, b) I’d read a different mix of books (I’ve read very little history) and c) I’d adopted a different posture, namely something more mindful, slower even, where I wasn’t motivated to read as many books as possible. On this point, I don’t understand the book challenges that are promoted by Goodreads and others. Surely, the name of the quixotic game isn’t to read as many as possible but to enjoy as many as possible?
What about you?
Has reading influenced you? Or should it have done?
Anyhow, tis that time again.