Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Year of Reading Aimlessly

“I do not want to be a book worm. If its book is taken away from it, the little blind head is raised; it wags, hovers, terribly uneasy, in a void—until it begins to burrow again.”
—Katherine Mansfield

For the past year, reading has been a salve for my grief and a substitute for exploring the world beyond my apartment (doctor’s orders to stay off my feet). I’m not alone in turning to books for spiritual sustenance and guidance. Nina Sankovitch read a book a day a few years ago to comprehend her sister’s death, then turned the 365 project into a best-selling book—Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading.

Unlike Sankovitch, I’ve no best-selling book as a result of my year of reading. And I certainly didn’t match the pace and quantity of her reading. I had no deadline and no specific goal in mind.

Yet I feel changed by my bookwormishness. My grief has lightened, I’ve learned loads, I’ve discovered (or rediscovered) some critical aspects of my nature, and I feel not quite whole but substantial enough to serve the greater good in some way. Though reading didn’t heal me physically (I’m still supposed to stay off my feet), it accomplished remarkable emotional and spiritual feats.

Like Katherine Mansfield, I need to be more than a bookworm now. Venturing forward, my reading will be specifically purposeful: to strengthen and improve my physical well-being, and to advance an animal-related education project for which I’ve volunteered my time. I’ll miss making random book picks at the library, but I look forward to reading for a cause.

Correction: I (almost) ALWAYS look forward to reading. Period. Don’t you?

[Art by Ramón Casas.]

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