Once upon a time, Dr. Crazy, before she was awarded the doctorate and when she was just a little tyke of a Crazy, had her first argument with a librarian. The problem, as Crazy's Mommy tells it, was that Little Crazy wanted to check out more than the allowed number of books for pre-school kids. I believe the number was something like 3 books at a time maximum, and, well, we only went to the library once a week, and that just WAS NOT ENOUGH. NOT ENOUGH BOOKS TO LAST AN ENTIRE WEEK AT ALL.
In high school, my problems with librarians increased, mainly due to the fact that I would check out a large number of books, read them very quickly, and then forget to return them by the due date, thus racking up large fines. This tendency lasted through my undergraduate years, and well, I don't want to talk about how much I spent on library fines as a graduate student. That said, from about the age of 12 on, my reading habits transformed away from the voracious habits of my youth (MORE BOOKS! MORE! ANYTHING THAT LOOKS INTERESTING!) to more steady and considered habits in which I wanted more than anything to read books that were "important" or "worth reading." In other words, while I still had conflicts with librarians, they weren't so much about wanting to get more reading pleasure but rather about scheduling and draconian practices related to fining people. (Example: why would you fine me when I'm the only person who has taken out this book for 10 years? It's just ridiculous. Nobody else wanted that book. And remember: these were the days before one could renew online or over the phone - one had to take all of the books in to get them renewed.) This is when I began to eschew the library in favor of buying books (at least whenever it was possible).
But so anyway, I rediscovered the public library last summer, and one of the things that's been so awesome about that is that I've also rediscovered the pre-school-aged me who picks books out that "look good" - regardless of quality or reviews or whether I've even heard of them - and I read them as quickly as possible the minute that I get home. Yes, I always end up getting some "good for me" books, and no, I never read them. No, instead I binge on the "fun" books, feeling guiltless for enjoying them because I did not buy them, but feeling guilty in the pleasure that I take in these books that are the equivalent of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken to a bulimic. What I'm consuming - quickly, in huge gulps, paying no attention to nuances or subtlety - is the equivalent of literary fast food. And I LOVE it. And I LOVE not savoring every morsel of the books, but after I finish I feel vaguely sick and tired (partly because, for example, last night, I end up staying up until like 4 AM and I know I'll have to pay for it in the morning).
It's strange to me that this is the way I take the most pleasure in reading, given my chosen career. Yes, there is intellectual pleasure in poring over a book and reading it carefully, but my favorite way to approach a book is in this gluttonous fashion, in which I read without a pen, and only for plot, and I skim the lame parts, and I read an entire novel in one sitting without taking any breaks - at all. And somewhere around the age of 12 I lost this, and it's only in the last year that I've really gotten it back, but I'm not sure if it's good for me. And wow, do I need a nap.
4 years ago