Growing up, you could easily describe me as a bookworm. I would spend entire days curled up with a good book and I was always on the hunt for new things to read. I loved the quiet of reading, the focus it requires, the escapism, and the way it inspired me to write. And then I had kids. Our house became noisy, our schedules crowded, and my mental energy sapped. As a freelancer, I felt compelled to work more, read less. And when I had time to unwind, I preferred the mindlessness of TV and the shorter focus of a video game. My time with books was spent reading aloud to my kids. My own books went half-finished and grew dusty on shelves.
When we moved, we came with boxes and boxes of books. A full wall of built-in bookcases, and then some, came with us. The kids each have their own bookcases filled to the brim. We set up a library in our new house and my husband began to fill it as he unpacked; it was like running across old friends, but old friends with whom you no longer had common interests.
Summer vacation arrived and the days loomed ahead. In an effort to get out of the house and keep the kids occupied, we set off to get library cards in our new town. Inspired by the library’s prize-filled summer reading program (imagine needing to bribe kids to read!) and delighted with the vast options, my kids left loaded down with books. I thought that I should pick up a book or to, but struggled to remember my favorite authors. Eventually, I grabbed two books and checked out.
The kids couldn’t wait to get started on their reading lists, so we decided to all sit down to read our own books. That’s when the magic happened. First of all, it was quiet. No one was fighting. No one was asking questions or begging for help with something, other than deciphering the occasional tricky word. We each set off on our own private journeys through literary worlds. I was mesmerized by the book I had chosen (The Knitting Circle, by Ann Hood) which was beautiful, and heartbreaking, and honest. It made me want to hug my kids more often and yet I couldn’t put it down.
We don’t always find the space to sit and read quietly together, and sometimes the kids still want to be read to, or to read to me. But I have rediscovered a long lost love. Better still? I’m sharing that love with my own kids.