Good evening to all of my followers and readers out there. Tonight, I am feeling some type of way. My plan this evening was to come home from the office, get comfy, and lose myself in a book because I have not done so since Sunday evening. I don’t even know who I am right now. Instead, I decided to bring about a type of post that I haven’t done since almost the beginning of this blog. As I was driving home tonight, I was a bit pre-occupied with some random thoughts and comments I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot lately. As per my usual, I was going to shake them off and go about living my life, but I’m starting to reach the point where as a blogger, an active reader, and writer of sorts, my emotions were compounding and festering. This was an itch I had to scratch. I put fingers to keys, and I’m going to address this supposed revelation. Are you ready for it? Here is it:
Reading is stupid.
Just let those words sink in and roll around on your tongue and in your mind for a minute. I’ll wait because while I am choosing to write gritty and from the heart, I do need to collect my thoughts, even if just in an attempt at organization.
Do you feel as awesome as I do? Do any of you hear this sentiment expressed as often as I do? If you don’t, you may recognize some of the sister phrases:
- I’m not a good reader
- Reading just isn’t for me
- Reading is boring
- I wish I could read the way you do
- Reading doesn’t hold my attention
Any variety of the previously mentioned will do. Now here’s the deal, in creating this post, I know only my readers and book lovers will actually take a few minutes to skim my words and my thoughts in order to discuss or share this sentiment with someone. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll reach a non-reader, or an occasional reader, and help them change their minds, or at least persuade them to try. Maybe, and most-likely, I’m just writing this as my own form of therapy to pacify how any of the above phrases or questions affect me on a daily basis (because they absolutely do). I’m sure even my bookish friends will look at me cross-eyed when I say what I’m about to say, but when I contemplated expressing my sentiments on this topic, it brought tears to my eyes. As I go forward, you’ll possibly begin to understand why. If you’re interested, I’ve also written a similar post about book shaming. You can check out that entry here.
Okay, so reading is stupid (apparently). This is not an opinion to me. This is a statement made without foundation. I think you possibly try to appear like one of the cool kids, or perhaps there’s an underlying inferiority complex. I’m sure the list is actually quite long if we had a heart-to-heart. I’ve had this discussion with a few people over time, but no one can give me a reason that merits my sympathy or understanding. Come to think of it, no one has given me a real reason, period. In my brain, this isn’t as simple as saying “sports are stupid” or “musicals are annoying”. It’s more than that because reading serves as the foundation of so much of our daily lives whether you like it or not.
I sound heartless, I’m sure, but like I said, bear with me here. I have a point, or ten, or twenty. First off, you’re making up excuses. In 2017, there are numerous ways to enjoy a book. Shall I list some? We have your standard paperbacks and hardcovers, there are e-readers and their apps you can get right on your phone (you know, that machine you’re on for most of the day?), and now, there’s even this funky thing called Audible. It’s like your vintage books-on-tape, only better. Simply start the app on your phone, and sync it with your car’s bluetooth system. Voila! Stories will unfold as you drive! You don’t even need to do the heavy lifting by turning pages! Hell, you could even punch in a book title on YouTube and find that someone has uploaded a video of the book you’re looking for being read. No matter what your attention span, there’s an option for you. I promise.
At the end of the day, reading is a skill, not a talent. While it can be seen as a hobby such as horseback riding, basketball, cheerleading, football, chess, violin, dance, etc, it’s so much more. Most of us are not going to grow up to become professionals in our childhood hobbies. The majority of us will learn some basic skills here and there, and work a job that pays our bills in order to survive. It’s our other “hobby”, our skill of reading, that brings us to another level of not only enjoyment, but power. Why? Because it’s knowledge. A skill we gain, absorb, maintain, and even strengthen the more we’re exposed to it throughout our lives. How do I know? I think a mini flashback as to my personal experience with the written word might help shed some light onto why I’m beyond passionate about this particular topic.
I started reading at a young age. I have photographic evidence.
There’s even a story my dad likes to remind me of on occasion. He states that when I was about five, I wandered into his studio and over to his bookshelves to grab one of his Charles Dickens novels to enjoy before I was even old enough to understand a story of that caliber. I have vivid memories of school letting out for the year, and my parents sitting me down to compile my summer reading list in order to help me learn during my breaks so that I went back to school the following year with an advantage. As a kid, I have to say, I hated that they did this. On beautiful summer days, I wanted to be out and about with my friends, not stuck in the house, reading a certain amount of chapters per day before I was allowed to scamper off to do what I wanted. I might not have enjoyed it at first, but from those early childhood moments, books stuck with me. I’m sure if you spoke with my parents now, they’ll agree that they’ve created some sort of monster, but I’ll still continue to thank them for the encouragement they gave me to discover worlds outside my own.
While friends and activities took priority for awhile, I carried my stories as sorts of talismans. For years, I was not the most stellar of students, but my passion for books followed me no matter where I went. It was that love that drove me to focus on my writing and texts. I did bounce around between schools and tried to figure out what I wanted to do, but after much deliberation, and a twenty-five page thesis later, I graduated three times, two of my degrees focusing on English Lit. I was also able to leave university as a member of Sigma Tau Delta.
Part of my responsibility as a ΣΤΔ honor society member was to promote literature throughout my community. Loving books as much as I do, I felt personally responsible to do something to make a difference in my own way. Bring on The Blabbing Bibliophile. It began as an Instagram account that gained a following among fellow readers, and grew into something… more. I made the decision to share what I was reading on a larger scale, and turned my images into a blog space. It’s still my baby, but it is gaining an audience and becoming its own network. I could not be more proud or excited to see where it goes. To quote one of my book friends, in beginning accounts such as these, we’ve been able to find our tribe.
I don’t say any of this to brag. Please don’t misunderstand my point. I’m not sponsored by companies, and I do not get paid for my time or effort I put into not only the website, or each and every single blog post. I created and maintain my little corner of the web, hoping that it will take root and continue to flourish, because of my genuine love for literature. It’s more than a passion. It’s something I feel deep in my bones, and every ounce of energy I put into the reading process (and everything that comes after) is worth it to me. It’s who I am. When friends and complete strangers alike reach out to me and say I’ve helped them discover a new book or series, I completely fangirl with them and discuss plots, characters and ideas, and it’s those little moments that continue to drive me to promote a love of reading with anyone I can reach. I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel to a handful of destinations where some of my most beloved stories originated, and I’ve fallen so in love with other worlds, that I’m now heavily researching moving to another country. I think, at this point, that you see where I’m going with this (at least I hope you do). Reading teaches you to become an explorer. It opens the doors of language and communication and allows you to travel to places and talk to people you never thought you could. Sometimes, without leaving the comfort of your own bed!
On the flip side, when people mention that anyone can be a blogger (as if its a bad thing), that some of the genres I tend to enjoy and share with the community are less than reputable, or that essentially all the energy I’m spending isn’t worth it because, you know, reading sucks, it shreds me to my core. To me, insulting or simply not understanding a reader is like not understanding the person. Music or a film can allow you to feel a similar way, but there’s just something extra special about savoring words on a page that you can literally carry with you day-to-day.
Every single one of the above listed points (and then some) are the precise reason I have not, and will not understand people who don’t read. In this day and age, we’re conditioned to have the attention span of a fruit fly, and to keep our noses buried in our phones, plugged in at every minute. We have to see the silly cat videos, or what new meme is taking the world by storm. I’m guilty of enjoying a handful of these nonsensical moments, myself. As much as enjoy taking that break to rest my brain, I know how vital reading and knowledge are to my health. There’s a certain war on intellectualism happening in this world, and I feel the need to resist it by continuing to read, and you should too. Yeah… fun fact, reading can save your life. Here’s how: Reasons Reading Will Save Your Life
Before I close my eyes at night, I know that reading has kept me sane throughout both the good and the bad in my life. It’s kept my brain active, allowed me to be in touch with my emotions, expanded my vocabulary, served as a form of escapism, taught me complex/outside-the-box thinking, and enabled me to dream. Not just of far off places I’ll only ever visit in my mind, but also envision goals I never thought I’d have for myself. I’ve been able to discuss various aspects of literature with other readers around the globe and make friends I never thought I’d have. Words on a page have translated into how I function and interact with the world on a daily basis. I’m always learning something new and figuring out how to improve who I am. Reading is my identity, so when you tell me how ridiculous/pointless it is, you’re trying to discredit the very fiber I consist of.. and that of all the readers out there.
You can continue to strut your stuff and hold your head high while you tell me, once again, that you think reading is stupid, and that is your prerogative, but I suppose you should know that you will not sway my adoration for the magic that words hold. They will remain etched deep in my heart no matter the mockery or comments I may face. All I can say in response is that you’re missing out on entire universes of beauty and adventure. I can only hope that one day you’ll pick up any sort of material and give it a go. Join us. Become a reader!
PS- to my teachers, professors, parents, and friends/family who taught me to love literature and still support and encourage my crazy passion, all I can say is, thank you. Thank you for everything!