To all you book lovers out there; have you ever been rendered completely speechless by a whip crack remark about reading? No? Try this one for size. I was reading in bed one Sunday morning when my now ex-husband launched into an anti-book tirade. Due to lack of attention, lack of sleep or just sheer bloody-mindedness, he started ranting about boring bookworms, why, when they’d read so many books already, would they possibly want to read even more and then…..his main argument…. why readers were in fact life-avoiders who didn’t know how to really live. He ended with a patronising “while you were reading, I was living, love”.
Since I’d travelled throughout my 20’s (he hadn’t), done a college course (he hadn’t), had the beginnings of a good career as well as other hobbies I was stunned speechless by my apparent lack of ‘living’, I can tell you. But I was also so dumbfounded by the either/or implication (he had one of those bet-you-can’t-answer-that glints in his eye), that I just couldn’t find the words to answer effectively. Instead, I shouted defensively – a poor strategy – and inevitably, after a few more shouting bouts, the morning ended badly He stormed off to the pub (his interpretation of ‘living’ I now realise), and I thought about it.
The suggestion that I read books to avoid life appalled me and I don’t know about you, but in my opinion life without books isn’t living at all. For me they provide not just entertainment, but insight, lessons on life, stimulation and emotional succour. I’ve laughed and cried, felt pity, anger, empathy and sheer unadulterated joy, all due to the power of the written word. Living without books is unthinkable.
My ex-husband did eventually discover the joys of reading after I sought out autobiographies on his own particular passion: sailing. After that he moved on to other genres and when I saw him recently I asked nonchalantly if he was still reading and he said with a smile “I get it now, I really do, thanks”. He didn’t notice the triumphant glint in my eye!
Categories: Just Thoughts