I just wrote this for the sub-page, “Books” on my blog. After finishing, I decided I wanted to share it here as well because it expresses something very personal and important to me.
Every so often, I fill out an application. Usually, after all the self-aggrandizing, and carefully constructed words of puffery, the questionnaire will ask about my hobbies. The truth is that reading is my hobby, and to be honest, it took me a while to come to a realization that this was okay. Our society doesn’t celebrate reading, and more so, doesn’t equate manliness with reading. Men go hunting, and hiking. They hit things, and watch sports. While I share many of the same interests, I cannot say that I do any of those things as a regular, or continual hobby.
The only thing I regularly do is read.
To be honest, it’s a bit ironic that I even enjoy the act of reading. It’s a bit of a miracle, really…because I cannot sit still. Ever. Ask my wife…it drives her crazy. There is something that happens, though, when a book is opened, and I am pulled into the black and white of the book’s pages…the smell of print, and the sound of the cracked spine intoxicates me. I believe that one of the most underrated feelings of accomplishment comes with the reading of the final period, followed by the feeling of the back cover closing on a part of life. One of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway, once said about reading,
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they really happened and after you are finished reading one you feel that it all happened to you and after which it all belongs to you.
It’s true. Books become part of me. I look back on a time in life, and I think of the books I read, and often feel as though they were good friends that kept me company. Before you feel sorry for me, yes, I do have other friends…ones I spend time with building wonderful memories together. Books, though, hold a place in my life that allows me to stay sane. They give me permission to journey, without fear of loss. Books help me to change, without rubbing my nose in the dirt, and books give me an outlet when life has become a bit too much.
Edward P. Morgan said it best when he said,
A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.
This is why I read.