I love to read – so when I saw this video by Matt Grist about the numerous attractions of girls who read – I couldn’t help wondering – “Where were you when I was 16??!!” It would have been so helpful to know, when I was a spotty teenager with my nose buried in a book, that one day I’d be the literary equivalent of a shiksa goddess to a certain small subsection of the population!
To me reading is like breathing – I don’t just love to read – I need to read. I read fiction and non-fiction and essays and poetry and and plays and scientific journals and student reports (where I sometimes have to resist the urge to gouge my eyeballs out). I read the classics and contemporary literature and best sellers and obscure authors, I read because the written word moves me as much as the spoken one. My heroes and heroines have names like Atticus Finch, and Katniss Everdeen, and Scout, and Josephine March, and Severus Snape, and Hermione Granger, and Marjorie Richards, and Anne Frank, and Lisbeth Salander, and Kairaba Kunta Kinte. They have come from all the times and all the places in the world – and outside of it. They have made me think and cry and laugh and let me believe in my unique snowflakeyness while simultaneously questioning my very existence – all without…and this is important…leaving my couch!
I remember lines from books like people remember lines from movies. Lines like – “a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune is in need of a wife“, or “sometimes – we sort too early“, or “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” or “little bundle of contradictions“. I find myself saying them as often as “these are not the droids you seek” or “curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal“.
But let me hasten to add that, while I have read some wonderful books…. I am also quite happy to read truly mindless drivel. Much to the chagrin of my parents, you will more often see me curled up with a truly pathetic romance novel. Bodice rippers with heaving bosom-ed women in all states of undress on the cover…. and awful euphemisms like “lance of destiny” or “love rocket” to describe…. certain ubiquitous body parts.
So yes – much as it pains me to admit it – I have read the Twilight series and I have read 50 Shades of Grey – and both the sequels – what can I say – I’m shallow and easily swayed by hype. And. No. I’d. Rather. Not. Talk. About. It. Except to say that the female protagonist (in both those sets of books) was always breathless – which was really annoying! I mean, the only time I’ve been that consistently breathless is after working out (yes, walking slowly on a treadmill is working out). And even though my husband professes to love me unconditionally – sweaty and out of breath is not one of my more irresistible looks!
Also, if you were as persistently breathless as Anesthesia (yes, I know her real name is Anastasia, but I’m standing by my interpretation because she is vapid and boring!!), the oxygen content in your blood would drop, causing acidosis leading to hyperventilation causing you to need to breathe into a paper bag – and no one in the history of human beings has looked sexy breathing into a paper bag. At this point I’d like to add that I’m not the medical kind of doctor so please don’t sue me if this explanation of respiratory acidosis is incorrect!! I’m using a literary device called creative license – look it up!
So….. anyway…. yeah, where was I again? Right – reading. I can read books over and over again. I’ve read the last four Harry Potter books about 6 times each – and that doesn’t seem weird to me at all. Books are like comfort food, like meeting old friends, like muscle memory – like using a familiar exercise to tone the part of your body between your ears. You know how people always talk about Michael Phelps and his lean and toned “swimmer’s body“….well I MOST definitely have a “reader’s body” or at least a “reader’s posterior“!! But hey, I bet if you looked at my brain – with it’s undulating gyri and rippling sulci, glistening and shimmering in cerbrospinal fluid – you’d agree that it’s cover girl material baby – cover of Neuroscience Today!