For the Love of Reading!

When we were growing up people would always ask us, “What is it like to be a twin?” (I start out with a “we” to show you that when I was little this was my default personal pronoun.  But not in an Ayn Rand kind of way.) My response to that is, “I don’t know, what is it like to not be a twin?” Fortunately people don’t do this much anymore (probably because Mara and I aren’t attached at the hip anymore so people don’t know we’re twins). Now that I am grown up I have a different problem (well, it’s always been a problem but people have commented on it a lot more recently).  Every time I go to a place to get my hair done, they say, “Wow, you have a lot of hair.” And then, when they start to blow it dry, they say, “Wow, you’re hair is very absorbent.” And then last time I got my hair dyed, the girl asked me, “Your hair must be really heavy.  Do you get headaches when your hair is in a ponytail?” I just wanted to say, “I don’t know, you tell me!  What is it like to light, fluffy hair?  What is it like to not have to spend an hour blow drying your hair?” I’ve always had super thick hair, and I’ve always been a twin, nor do I plan on either of these things ever changing.  So I can’t tell you what it’s like to be otherwise.

And yet as much as these questions annoy me, I’m often tempted to ask one of my own: “What is it like to NOT want to read a book?” I’ve met many people who see me reading and are like, “Whatcha readin’?  Is it for school?  What, it’s for fun?  Why would you do that? I don’t like to read.” And I just want to say, “What’s wrong with you?!” Instead I just say to myself, “That person will never be your friend.”

I guess I should be more open-minded.  There are some people in this world who just aren’t born to plug into that type of creative outlet, or maybe they had a terrible experience as a child (the alphabet attacked them? I don’t know) and now they have bad associations with reading.  I guess I should still want to be friends with them.  But deep down I know that even if I tried, it wouldn’t work out.  Because I don’t know what it’s like to not want to read.  I don’t know what it’s like to not talk about Harry Potter, or plot structure, or character development, or how the book is always better than the movie.  I just don’t understand.

That’s one reason why my job is awesome.  Everybody who works in the publishing community loves books.  We do!  Maybe we don’t all love the same authors or the same genre, or we might have differing opinions on what constitutes a “good book.” But at least it gives us a common ground to argue about.

I’m not really sure the point of this post since I’m pretty sure everybody reading this is in the same boat that I am. If you don’t love to read, I’m not really sure why you’re reading a blog about reading and writing. So I guess my question is: how do I relate to these other people?  Do I even want to? Or how can I convince them that my way is the right way?

Posted in Personal, Reading

4 Responses to For the Love of Reading!

  1. Jessie, I understand your conundrum. I understand it perhaps better than most people — because I am a writer married to a man who does not enjoy reading.

    There are lots of reasons for his dislike of reading (not the least of which is a vision problem that went uncorrected during childhood and is now permanently uncorrectable) — but we’d been married several years before I consciously realized just how much he did not enjoy reading. And then I was left with a serious problem: How am I going to deal with this?

    Over time, I’ve realized: I don’t have to “deal with” it. Reading and books weren’t the reason I fell in love with him; reading and books aren’t the reason I still love him. I finally realized that, considering how many other people in my life do love books and reading, I don’t need him to love books and reading.

    I guess it boils down to this: Books and reading aren’t the be-all, end-all of my personality — nor of anyone else’s. There are so many aspects to Ed besides his not-reading; in comparison to the rest of him, the not-reading is a minute thing. There’s more to me than books; there’s more to him than not-books. We have relationship and common ground on other (sometimes more important) levels.

    • jessie says:

      I find it interesting that reading and writing are such a huge part of your life and yet it bears no weight on your marital status. Sean and I rarely read the same thing (and Sean rarely makes time to read), but we do both enjoy the activity, and it gives us something in common. But I guess you’re right–it isn’t the end all of either of our personalities, either. *happy sigh* people can be so multi-faceted, can’t they? It makes character building so exciting and daunting!

  2. Mara says:

    I always thought those were odd questions, too (well, not the “what’s it like to be a twin?” because… I don’t have a twin. But people often ask me “What’s it like to be the only girl?”) And I will never understand people who don’t like reading.

    Another question I always find hard to answer is “what do you write?”
    And I just want to answer, “Um… words?” Really, what else is there?

    Also, I am jealous of your job. (I read your about page.) I always wanted to do something like that.

    • jessie says:

      Yes, my job is pretty sweet. I am fortunate enough to have a husband who forced me to apply for a job he knew I would enjoy and be good at 😛 Thanks for your input, Mara!