ideas reading writing


The unfathomable has happened.

I am bookless.

I don’t think I’ve been bookless since I was in elementary school. Once I finally got the hang of reading (I was a late reader, having caused first grade teachers some distress with my lack of literary ability) and had a library card, I was never without a stack of books to read by my bedside.

Even though people told me that college would ruin me for reading, I defied them and kept up my habit of continuous reading, typically having 2 or 3 books going at any given time.

Here are the last 2 books I read:

How to Write Short by Roy Peter Clark
How to Write Short by Roy Peter Clark
The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo
The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo

While I don’t make a habit of purchasing books, preferring to check them out of the library rather than own them, I did buy these because I had 2 gift cards to Barnes & Noble from my family. (Best gift ever? Wandering through a bookstore for an hour or so knowing that you can buy several books without any guilt for putting a dent in the family budget.)

I took my time reading both, particularly “The Art of Slow Writing.” With a title like that, how could you gallop through it? Both were excellent; both made points I had not read about writing before (and I’ve read a LOT about writing).

You might think that the book about writing short would encourage fast writing, but it actually does the opposite. If you are writing short, you ought to spend more time crafting your words because each one carries more weight. “How to Write Short” was a perfect complement to “The Art of Slow Writing.” (Note that both have sparse white covers that feature a pencil in their designs.)

Here is my favorite segment from “The Art of Slow Writing”:

“So much of life today occurs quickly. All this instant this and instant that makes it hard for us writers to understand that it might take a long time to write a book, and that we often can’t predict how much time the work will take. It might make us expect to write our books more quickly than they can or should be written. It might make the people in our lives believe we should finish our work sooner than it’s possible. It might make us feel like failures because we are taking such a long time.” (pg. 225)

For some reason, the combination of reading this book and the circumstances of my life have caused me to slow down, to not rush to the library and get another book to fill the bookless void.

I’ve been bookless for a couple of weeks now. Periodically, I get the urge to visit the library and check one (or several!) out, but I’ve been holding off for a little while. I’m enjoying not having to speed through a book because it is due back in 3 weeks. I didn’t realize I was under such pressure.

Just because I’m bookless doesn’t mean I’m not reading. That’s an impossibility so long as my eyes and mind are still functional. I see words, I read them. (Someone on Quora likened reading to mind control because once you know how to read, you can’t not do it.) With the internet and a review board I’m on, plus the stash of reference books in my personal library, I have plenty to read. I’m just temporarily bookless.