The Read’s the Thing

Do you like to read?  I do.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve gotten settled in Albuquerque, and I can now finally get back to life as usual after the hassle of moving.  But with the toning down of the turmoil of settling in, I realized that something was missing–something that’s been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember (cliché, I know, but it works).  That something was reading.  I really missed it because I hadn’t read a book since before I started packing for the move in early October.  I found the local Barnes and Noble bookstore several weeks ago, but on my first visit I didn’t buy any new books.  (All I got was a Sierra Club weekly calendar.)  So, late last week I went back and picked up a few more calendars, and a book.  Finally–something to read.

I have to read.  I have to bring new information into my brain on a regular basis or … well, I don’t know an “or” for this situation, but it doesn’t matter, I have to read.  TV doesn’t do it for me, even though on one channel here in ABQ, Star Trek TNG is on at 11:30 PM.  Even though I like TNG, I’ve seen most of the episodes, and in a way, that’s symptomatic of TV as a whole (“hole”?)  There’s too much of the same thing on TV.  I crave the new information, the new story, the new excitement that a book will bring.  It can take Hollywood a year or more to bring a book to a screen, but I can read a book, depending on its length, in a few days to a few weeks.  There’s nothing like a book to take you away into someone else’s world, to give you the stimulation you desire, the encouragement you need to continue your own writing, and the examples you need for your own book.

But sometimes a book is none of that.  Sometimes a book is just an escape.  Sometimes it’s just for information.  Whatever the reason, it’s essential to me to read and absorb whatever’s going on between the covers.  That’s the marvelous bounty of books–their variety is far more than anything TV can produce.  There’s a zillion books that never make it to the screen.

In a way, that’s true of the book I got last week, The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow.  Don’t laugh, it spent some time on the NY Times bestseller list, although I’m not sure I see why.  It is pretty heavy for such a small book (200 pages, including an index).  All about Hubble and Feynman and Einstein and others, and about quantum theory and how it affects our daily lives.  But I follow that kind of stuff, and I enjoy reading about heavy scientific philosophy like that.  It’s not for everyone, true, but as a book it doesn’t have to be.  Just grab the type of book you want to read, and go read it.

I’ve heard that writers have to be readers, and I completely agree, but in my case, I’d be a reader even if I wasn’t trying to write.  For a long time all I read was scientific papers, which can be boring as hell even though I needed to know what others were doing in my field.  Now I’m getting back to reading more for pleasure than information.  Even the coming revolution in publishing won’t stop those of us who like to read from buying a new book and going to it.  It doesn’t matter whether the typeface is on a piece of paper or a com screen of one type on another, the reading is the thing, and I suspect the makers of Kindle, Nook, and whatever else is out there, realize and understand it.

So, what are you reading now?

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