Wednesday, July 14, 2010

there'll be a change in me

It's no secret that I am pretty into knitting. Okay, yes, that I have been obsessed with knitting for more than two years, and pretty much spend every spare moment (and some that I can't spare) with a pair of knitting needles in my hands. Knitting has tapped a wellspring of creativity in me that I didn't even know I had, and I find it deeply satisfying. But lately, I am, well, not as satisfied. I still love to knit, you understand, but I am restless. I cast about for something more. When I received a couple of comments last week on some of my blog posts from a blogger whom I greatly admire, I felt embarrassed that more than a month had passed since the last time I posted. I realized I missed posting on my blog. Well, that is easily remedied, and here I am.

Still, something is missing, and I think I know what it is - my lifelong passion for reading. Up until I started knitting, I believe I would have defined myself first and foremost as a reader. From the time I learned to read - more than fifty years ago - I could generally be found with a book in my hand. We didn't own a lot of books when I was a kid, but I loved the public library, and it is one of the first places, other than school, that I remember walking to without my parents. My friend, Judy, and I used to read books together on our front porch swing. I am a quick reader, and used to wait impatiently for her to finish each page, especially when we were reading The Pink Dress or the racy Forever Amber.

After we were married, it took Ben some time to adjust to the fact that his new wife spent most of her spare time with her nose buried in a book. When we moved, our new apartment was next door to the public library. Talk about a great location! I read throughout both of my pregnancies, and, looking back, I believe reading helped me to maintain my equanimity during those early childraising years. Something even more important was happening then, as well. My kids were learning by my example about the pleasures of reading a book. When they needed Mom, I was almost certainly sitting in the flowered chair by the bookcase, with a book in my hands. Need I say they are both avid readers?

I worked at the library for eleven years, and belonged to two book discussion groups. When we moved again, I joined an online community of readers and book collectors, and began seriously collecting books. I read all the time. Then I started knitting, and all I wanted to do was knit. I bemoaned the fact that I couldn't knit and read at the same time, so Ben bought me an iPod player so that I could listen to books that way. He even put some short stories and books on my iPod. But, you know, it wasn't the same as reading, and I never really took to it. I like to hold a book in my hands. I like to turn the pages. I like to linger over passages and re-read them - or skip them altogether.

So the past couple of years have gone by without me even picking up a book - something I could never have anticipated. I still read the book reviews in the Plain Dealer every week, and frequently thought, now that sounds like a book I would have read. A couple of times, I even got the small wire-bound notebook out of my purse and wrote down a promising title and author. But that was where it ended.

Yesterday, however, I went to the library. I headed for the new book section, right in the center of the first floor, and - it wasn't there. The shelves weren't even there. It was a big empty space. I couldn't believe it. It was like one of those dreams where you think you know where you are, but things keep shifting and changing, and suddenly you're not sure. I looked to the familiar stacks on my left, then looked back to see if everything had returned to normal, but it hadn't. I couldn't find the new books. I was reduced to asking the reference librarian where they had gone. When she told me, I asked her when they had been moved there. "Like a year ago" was her reply. After that much time, I guessed it was pointless for me to tell her that I don't like change in general, and didn't like that change in particular.

After a great deal more browsing than I thought I would need, I did manage to find two books that I had read reviews of - one of which I even located through my little notebook. They are small books, and I should be able to read them pretty quickly. I feel the need to start small, and work my way back to the contemporary literature that had become my favorite reading material. I have decided to bring you along on this journey, and will be posting my book reviews here on my blog, at first. If this reading thing catches on, I may create a new blog just for reviews. Who knows? I'll keep you "posted".


Liz said...

I really enjoyed reading your new post, Anne. Have fun reading some new delicious books. I also love books.

jamanci said...

hooray for getting back into reading again! i myself found that i was missing it at the beginning of summer, and was quite glad to get back into it.

andrew and i have been talking about heading over to the library for some "book shopping" for a week or two--maybe now we'll do it! i can finally get a local library card, too. :)

Judy S. said...

Great post, Anne. I loved learning how you were turned into an avid reader; I worked and still volunteer in adult literacy, and it's folks like yours as well as good schools that make those services unnecessary. I love books as well. (And so do our kids and my DH and the grandkids who are being read to at the moment.)

Ben said...

Yes, you are the most avid reader I know. It was only four years ago that you set and met your own "150 Book Challenge", reading in a year what I may not have read in a lifetime. I was surprised at the way knitting eclipsed reading for a while, but I knew reading would eventually return to restore a sense of balance.

I'm glad you're reading again. You write excellent reviews, too, and this blog is a great way to share them.

And Liz! Great to see you on here!

anne mancine said...

Thanks, Liz! What are you reading lately?

Jules - I would be delighted to influence you back to the library. Get a library card!

Judy - I am so interested to hear that you used to work in adult literacy. So did I! I volunteered as a tutor when my kids were in elementary school, and when the adult literacy program coordinator left, I was hired for the position. I loved the job, but our library director liked the idea of an adult literacy program much more than he actually wanted to fund it or support it, so I moved on to another position at the library.

Your support is much appreciated, as always, Ben. Dare I say it's vital to me? ;)

jamanci said...

got my library card, but was disappointed anew with our local library's collection and janky catalog. who knew we were so lucky in elyria?! i'll have to request everything up from baltimore.