Saturday, July 17, 2021

The sheer pleasure of reading

This has nothing to do with the topic of today's post, but first I have to wish my big brother Mark a happy 64th birthday. It's almost like there's a Beatles song for this occasion...

Less importantly, I recently started reading books again. If you're a reader, you're nodding your head and wondering why I ever stopped in the first place. If you're not a reader, you're scratching your head trying to figure out why this ancient practice of reading words on a printed page has any attraction to anyone.

Because the world is essentially divided into readers and non-readers, right? That's my experience, at least, and rarely do those two camps intersect.

And by "readers," I guess I mostly mean readers of books. We all read something throughout the day, but I'm talking about good old-fashioned hardbound (or paperback...I'm not picky) books.

During my 2 1/2-month job transition period, I got back into books. I read a massive history of sea power in the First World War called "Castles of Steel" and also consumed the Lord of the Rings series, including "The Hobbit" and all three books of the trilogy proper.

I enjoyed it all, but I found that when you've been out of the reading game a while, it takes a little work to get back into shape. And by that I mean it takes a book or two before you're used to reading and comprehending several pages at one go.

For all of their benefits, smart phones seem to have collectively shortened our attention spans by several degrees. Reading books requires more prolonged, concentrated effort.

On a related note, I also rediscovered the pleasure of browsing bookstores. A few weeks ago before I started my new job, I drove down to Goodyear one morning just to see what the commute would be like, then on the way back stopped in the town of Hudson, Ohio.

There I experienced The Learned Owl, a bookstore located in Hudson's quaint, Hallmark-movie-like strip of downtown shops. I could have stayed there all day. It has two floors and is permeated by that "book smell" I love but can't describe.

It was awesome. I hope to get back there soon.

In the meantime, being fully employed again has cut down on my reading time, but I'm working through "All Quiet on the Western Front" in small chunks.

I'm so glad to have reentered the Kingdom of Reading. My self-imposed exile was far too long.

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