Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

February 2, 2011

My Reading Efforts

Filed under: Reading — Janice @ 1:12 am

I grew up with parents that were in a mixed marriage. Mom was a reader, Daddy wasn’t.

Mother read voraciously and subscribed to Reader’s Digest Condensed Books so that there were always books to be read. I vividly remember visits to the Bookmobile in Amarillo when it would stop in the parking lot on Bell by the good Belmar Bakery and we would troop through gathering as many books as they would let us have and then they would put the card with the little metal tag on it into the machine and clunk-clunk, push the cards down into the machine to have it mark the due date magically on it. It left enough smear of ink on the metal of the card you could sometimes stamp your number on your hand.

Once we moved to the country, we seemed to use the church library as our primary book source. It wasn’t just “church” books. I know Mackie read every Nancy Drew mystery there was checked out from that library. I was a little young for the Nancy Drew books at that time so I didn’t read as many.

In Colorado, we again had a Bookmobile and we sometimes walked all the way to the parking lot at the Palmer Park and Academy shopping center to get books. When we would walk home we would trade our stacks of books as we went because a new load always seemed like a lighter load and it made the walk go faster.

I don’t know Mom’s other sources of books. Her sisters and friends, I guess. She always had a book going and would always go to bed in order to read a while before she slept. When Daddy was out of town (which was often in his job), Mother and Mackie and I would read and read. We sometimes slept on a mattress on her bedroom floor when Daddy was gone and we three would lay there and read a long time before sleeping. We would also read at the supper table– not allowed when the whole family was together and Daddy was home.

Daddy, on the other hand, was not a reader. He got that from his father. I have heard my aunt tell about hiding in a barn loft in order to read without being derided for such a wasteful pasttime. Daddy certainly wasn’t that bad, but I vividly remember him ranting on in the mid-1980s about “Show me a man that has time to read and I’ll show you a man who doesn’t accomplish nothing!” I folded my arms and said my brother-in-law’s name. Theo hadn’t been in the family very long, but it was obvious that he was a reader. He always had a book in his hand and while the rest of us might be watching a football game on TV, he would be watching, but reading at the same time. And as for accomplishment, we were all proud of his self-built diamond business and his success in anything he put his hand to. That shut my dad up that time, I know.

Later, Daddy became more of a reader himself. I think he was just not raised with it and, as a man with a more-then-40-hour-a-week job and a farm on top of that, he didn’t have time to enjoy reading. Once he retired, he took up reading and read a lot, particularly Louis L’Amour westerns and biographies.

When I met Mark, he said he didn’t read books, only magazines. He didn’t know what he was talking about because it wasn’t long before he was plowing through nonfiction books as fast as he could get his hands on them. He finds time to read during lunch most days, though he never has picked up the reading-before-bed habit.

So that gets me to me and my poor reading habits! I am appalled at how little I read these days. I love books. I love words. I love a well-crafted book that compels me to read it. Those seem to be few and far between these days.

What brought this all to my attention today was two posts I saw on the web. Yes, I read a LOT on the Internet (including books on Google books, though that doesn’t seem to count in my mind). First,  a friend posted on Facebook her brother’s list of his favorite books that he had read this year. Autumn (my friend) is an incredibly talented singer and songwriter and her brother apparently has a way with words as well. Here is his list of the books he liked most of the 45 or so that he read in 2010. Forty-five? I didn’t count, but I bet I didn’t read 12. I read 2 of the 3 Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books and I read The Help. The Help was probably my favorite. If I dug through the giant stack of books by my bed there are probably more that I read and liked, but maybe less memorable.

After reading Autumn’s brother’s list and thinking I needed to read more, I found out that Art Garfunkel keeps a long list of ALL the books he’s read for the last 40+ years on his website. It’s a pretty amazing list of great variety. I would be lucky to read just his favorites in the next 40 years.

So all that has made me wish I would make time to read more. It’s not that I don’t have the time, I just don’t make the time. I spend too much time sitting here at the computer (not this, not writing in the blog, but the other stuff) when I could be reading. I do almost always read before I go to bed, but usually a chapter (if that) is as far as I get before I am too sleepy to continue or it is too late to go further.

I am currently reading two really good books, so I hope that is a good start to the year. One is the memoir from singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell, called Chinaberry Sidewalks. It is about his childhood and his parents and is very well written and interesting. I’m also reading a book by Bill Bryson about traveling around the U.S., but it is in my purse and, as so often happens with a book in my purse, I carry it more than read it and I’ve only read one chapter and that was last night while sitting at a Sonic.

Reading is a lot like writing in this blog. It is something I really enjoy and once I get going and get it more into a habit, it gets easier and is something that I can’t go without. I hope I get back to that point with my reading soon. Maybe once the football season ends Sunday I can commit to at least filling a tenth of the time I would have spent watching football each week to reading a book. And I mean a tenth of the time of a good year of football, not like this year. I will try and report back soon.

1 Comment »

  1. I loved this story. I hope you have a wonderful day filled with beautiful memories of your dad. I am in Tenn. and will be going to Alabama on Sat. I hope to spend a week with different Aunts going through picture . Maybe I will find some new things for our family tree. If you have any new hints let me know. Also if I can find anything for you.Your picture of Nancy and Rufus at her death bed brought you and me together and put me on the trail of Texas and all the pictures of Nancy and her family.How awesome are you!I hope to go through the box where I found the letter from Henry Baxter Adkins. I will call you if I find something amazing. I will try to search the first wife of Rufus and her family also. Love Your cousin, Laurie

    Comment by Adkins Cousin-Laurie — February 3, 2011 @ 9:37 am

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