When I was about six or seven years old, I went to my reading coach (my big sister, Anne), and asked her advice. I wanted to read big books – chapter books, but it seemed a daunting task. Never one to sugar-coat, she gave it to me straight.
“You have to just read every second you can – when you are waiting for something, in the car, before dinner and after. Carry your book with you and just read anytime you can.”
Her advice did not end with the how. She also suggested the first book I should read. “Little House in the Big Woods.” I loved the image of the children all falling asleep on one big bed when the family gathered for Christmas, and the detailed renderings of life, seen through the eyes of a small child. I loved the illustration and the cover of Laura holding her doll.
I jumped in. It worked, and I was hooked. I read and read and read – in the car, under my covers, while walking to school. I read while others were in conversation all around me. I read every one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beautiful and quintessentially American books.
I wonder, now, if I would have been able to read so deeply in today’s environment, with so many distractions. I am prone to them myself, reading much less now than I used to. Sometimes I feel guilty when reading – as if I am wasting time and need to sneak off to read. I can't seem to find all those little moments, or if I do, there is a task that must fill it.
In the summer, when we travel to my husband’s family in Greece, I spend time planning the books I will bring, and generally alternate – serious, light, serious, light. And I fall back into that all-consuming pleasure, that reverie of reading from which nothing can rouse me.