I might have a problem

read this damn book

Is it wrong to read while you’re driving? I didn’t, but I strongly considered and narrowly vetoed it.

I’ve just come off a binge and I feel as high as a kite. A reading binge. An intellectual binge on words and prose and poetry. Upon the recommendation of I don’t know how many lists of books to read I just finished Lit: a Memoir by Mary Karr. And by finished I mean devoured in under three days. And by finished I mean couldn’t stop myself from reading at any and all moments of my life, both appropriate and not. When I wasn’t reading Lit, I was jonesing for a hit of it; just a few pages, please, any little bit I can get.

The irony in this, is of course that Lit is the story of addiction and I sit here fresh off its amazing ride wondering if I too have an addiction. Not to alcohol like Mary Karr, couldn’t ever really stand the stuff. An addiction to reading, to books, to all things literary. Is that even possible? It would be easy to trace back the genetics of it, if a literary addiction, like others can be inherited.

Many of my memories of my mother are of her reading. She read all the time, which wasn’t normally a problem, since I did too. Occasionally I needed her attention for some matter, pressing or otherwise and getting her attention away from whatever author had it proved to be near impossible and an exercise in the kind of persistence required to torture information out of someone (not that I approve of that). It went something like this:

Mom, mom, mom, mom. [tap on shoulder]


Mom, mom, mom, mom. [pull on sleeve]


Mom, mom, mom, mom. please look at me.

[slightly turns head, but eyes still follow text] what honey?

I was never truly neglected, but tonight as Middle and Little are in the tub, splashing around, I am sitting on the toilet lid, desperately trying to get a few pages in. My concentration is broke by, ” moooooommmmm” and I wonder how many times Middle said it. Someone splashes water out of the tub and I clutch the tome to my chest and wipe water droplets from its protective cover.

I’ve always been a lover of books and always prouder than necessary of my interest. In 7th grade, on the first day of “reading” class the teacher asked each of us to write down the title of the book we read over the summer. “What if we’ve read like 50?” I ask. Yes, I know, socially devastating.

Still to this day, I will talk to anyone about books, if we happen to have read the same book, all the better. But, not necessary, for I will regale you with whatever I happen to be reading at the time. Anyone who comes close enough to make eye contact with will probably get an earful about Lit and how they must put down whatever responsibilities they may have, take a vacation day and READ this damn book now.

I recently read Stephen King: On Writing and couldn’t stop blubbering about it to every writer friend I have. He says, and I have to believe him, that reading is part of the job of a writer. You must read to write. I wholeheartedly agree, seeing as it gives my addiction a purpose. How will I ever become a great writer if I do not read every book I encounter to find out what makes it good, or great, or crap? Or as in the case of Lit; amazingly shockingly incredible. I have run out of adjectives. Just READ this damn book now.

Other books I have just plowed through while surviving on chewing gum and diet coke (and you should too):

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Stephen King on Writing by Stephen King

Love Walked In by Mario De Los Santos

Self Help by Lorrie Moore

Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules edited by David Sedaris


2 Responses to “I might have a problem”

  1. August 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    You write really well about reading. I love the bathroom scene especially. I think the children have figured out how to get your attention away from a book, by splashing you with water. Perhaps you should have tried a squirt water bottle on your mom when you were a kid trying to get her eyes pried away from her book.

    Great stuff!

  2. August 9, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    I think I accidentally posted this below… I am reading Mary Karr’s “Lit” at the moment and it is fantastic.

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