Monday, September 27, 2010

"I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure." --Mae West

Sometimes, the simplest things can incite a brand new passion for life.

An unforgettable meal can motivate a stay-at-home mom to become a chef; A breathtaking exhibit can inspire a painter to turn their hobby into a profession; A stroll past Tiffany's could encourage a lover to finally propose.

My new enthusiasm falls on a slightly smaller scale, but deserves some credit nonetheless..

I'll set the scene: To say that I've never been keen on reading would be a mild understatement. My history dates back to the fifth grade, when I bought books at the school book fair because the titles came in a swirly font and pretty color. They were essentially dust collectors that I would occasionally flip through then decide (for one reason or another) "this book sucks." Sometime after my weird days of white eyeliner and braces, my distaste for reading became hard to ignore.

Regardless of the subject matter-- if it was typed, printed, or could be found between two book ends, I was almost guaranteed to flatline. Some people count sheep to fall asleep. Literally, all I had to do was open to page one. 

If I could pinpoint the source of this aversion, I'd say it started when reading simply became a chore. Chapters one through four due tomorrow? I'd rather lick a cactus, but thanks for playing.

Then came Sparknotes. Opening that treasure chest was like making a deal with the devil, like gettin' away with murder. Granted, some teachers were wise to our pseudo-knowledge and formulated tests accordingly. Others were not so bright... I took a liking to the latter.

By junior year, I noticed that this pattern might be getting out of hand. Full of optimism that the next book would spark my interest, I vowed each time to finish what I started. I remember the day we were assigned The Catcher in the Rye. I had my doubts, but still, I swore I would read the whole thing. Night after night, I'd truck along... 

I hardly made it past page thirty-five.

This nasty habit followed me to college like that little lamb to Mary. Assigned reading had become as painful as stilettos at 2 a.m. I needed something to relate to-- something to inspire me.

It wasn't until this summer that something clicked. One day, free of work and looking for something to do, I happened upon Border's. 

Much to the surprise of my family ("You're where?!"), I walked up and down the aisles of the two-level bookstore for nearly three hours. It was intimidating at first-- I felt like all the regular bookworms knew that I hadn't set foot in a bookstore since... uh... you get the point. But I quickly got lost reading cookbooks and flipping through memoirs. My goal was to buy just one book, and I ended up with two.

The first was a biography written by a prominent and successful model, Crystal Renn. The second was a novel that had garnered enormous popularity over the summer. Whether in the gym, on the beach or on the train, no one was without their copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by Stieg Larsson). I figured, if I was going to kick off this new hobby on the right foot, I might as well start with a book that people couldn't seem to get enough of.

I finished the memoir in a matter of days. The novel took me just two weeks.

Judge if you must, but I haven't read for pleasure since The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants circa the ninth grade. (I never read the final one-- Go figure.) And all it took was a trip to Border's to fulfill a sense of maturity that was lacking due to my irrational, preconceived notion that reading was for nerds. 

I write this post now because I've just finished another book: The Girl who Played with Fire. At 724 pages, it's officially the only book that's been able to captivate my attention for so many consecutive page turns. 

With every intention of rounding out the Larsson trilogy with The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, I think I can deem this old habit: kicked.

*I dedicate this post to my family, whom I miss and love very much! Amanda-- I bet you never thought you'd see the day...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're reading swedish books! This is amazing! (Please note that they are not Finnish. And that I am using exclamation marks to express my excitement, no - huge excitement)

/ You can probably guess who.