Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain

Being a Book Worm

The reality about me is that I read. A lot. Like, a lot a lot. I like reading, and I’m a fast reader. I could out-read my mom before I left elementary school, and if I can’t out-read my Dad, I can at least keep up with him. Seeing as he is the fastest reader I know, I’ll take it. I constantly get asked “Wait, you read that already?” and speed reading averages put me somewhere between the average high-level executive and the average college professor. (Side note: it makes me glad that college professors can still read faster than professionals.) I read books. I read magazines. I read articles. I read the side of cereal boxes. Since I’ve been in Prague, I’ve read every sign I could (even if I didn’t understand it).

Reading is what makes me me. If I’m bored, I read. If I’m stressed, I read. If I’m procrastinating, I read. Someone asked me today why I read, and I didn’t have a good answer for him. Because I can? Because it is the fastest and easiest way to absorb information on every topic under the sun? Because when I read fiction I get to experience a completely new world; if I don’t like it I can always stop reading and settle back into reality. Because it isn’t possible to travel everywhere, so I read to experience those places and those times that I will never get to see? All of the above?

A few days ago, I got bored. So I went online and started reading reviews. Book reviews, of course. Which sent me back to my list of books I want to read, and sent me scouring the internet for books I might enjoy. Which, ultimately, meant I ended the night with 25 brand new books on my iPad. And someone asked me what they were, so here is the list, in approximately alphabetical order by author’s last name:

  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
  • How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds by Nicholas Boothman
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  • R.U.R by Karel Capek
  • Influence by Robert B Cialdini
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  • How to Read a Book by Paul N Edwards
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
  • The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
  • An Incomplete Education by Judy Jones
  • Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • The Physics of Start Trek by Lawrence Krauss
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen
  • Nexus by Ramez Naam
  • Brilliance by Marcus Sakey
  • Cryptonicom by Neal Stephenson
  • A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
  • The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • Harry Potter 1 by JK Rowling

This is in addition to the books I already had on my iPad (starred books are those that I am currently reading):

  • Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson*
  • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely*
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl*
  • Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter*
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle*
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens*
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman*
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville*
  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  • Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
  • The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
  • The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking*
  • The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker*

It is an interesting world, that of being a book worm. Sometimes, I feel like I should spend more time in the “real world,” where I can interact with people, make new friends, and the like. But sometimes there is nothing I’d rather do that bury my nose in a book. Or, more accurately, where the ability to find books in a library is highly limited, bury my nose in my iPad. Which, interestingly is almost accurate, since it is cold here and since I wear gloves when outside and thus can’t swipe to the next page while reading and waiting for a tram, I often use the tip of my nose to go from one page to the next. I guess my long nose comes in handy after all.

I go through phases where I read like there is nothing else to do in the whole wide world, and I’ll read as many as a dozen books in a week. And sometimes I go weeks on end barely reading a thing (outside of schoolwork, of course). Right now, it seems like I’m sliding back into a reading phase which, though it will probably cut into my sleep time, doesn’t bother me a bit.

I also go through phases when I have a certain favorite author or genre. I had an Agatha Christie phase freshman year of high school, when I read every single one of her novels. That was shortly followed by and Isaac Asimov phase, probably because his books happened to be on the next shelf in our house. I went through a dystopian phase for a while, then through a Dickens phase, then a Murakami phase. Recent phases have included a travel book phase (Bill Bryson, Eat, Love, Pray, that sort of thing), a young adult fiction phase (I will admit, I jumped on that bandwagon for a while, and loved it.), and most recently a non-fiction phase. Not really a self-help book phase, but a phase inspired by a desire to learn something. Hence the last group of books put on my iPad – The Grand Design, which I’ve finished, Predictably Irrational, etc. My next phase seems to be somewhere between sci-fi and Czech literature; the bridge was probably Karel Capek’s RUR, in which he coined the term robot. It also seems that I’ve still got a bit of non-fiction to finish.

After downloading all these books, I wanted to read them. So last night, after dinner, I made a cup of tea (which quickly became two, then three, then I lost count) and settled down against the couch. Filip and Jachym were playing a racing game on Jachym’s x-box, and Emma was playing on her iPad, and I read. 600 pages. I finished the novel I was reading (Nicholas Sparks’s A Bend in the Road, as painful as it may be to admit that I read Nicholas Sparks. I’ve actually only ever read two – this and the Notebook, but there you are. I may read a lot, but I’m not always discerning…). Upon this completion, a short break was taken so I could get another cup of tea and a slice of bread with Nutella, and then I moved back to a book I’ve been reading off and on for a week or so now, The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker. It reads a lot more like a textbook than most non-fiction books published for a general audience, so I tend to read it just a few chapters at a time. Nonetheless, it is truly fascinating, and has already given me some significant insight into how my brain works as I’m learning Czech. I finished up the evening by starting a new book, Brilliance, by Marcus Sakey. I went into it with the intention of starting it. And then it was midnight. And then it was one, and I was done with the book. Check out my review here. So it seems I’m starting with the sci-fi portion, and perhaps from there I’ll move into Czech literature and some more of the classics. Perhaps I’ll get distracted when classes start up in earnest after next week, and I’ll forget to read anything at all. Who knows?

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One response

  1. Pingback: The Book This Week |

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