In my lifetime, one of the single most important activities of my life has been reading. At a young age I discovered that I could go to any world I chose just by cracking the cover of a book. Not much as changed as I have gone through the years. I still find great amounts of enjoyment from reading. Recently, I felt as if I had lost some of that luster for words. I had stopped reading a few books a month and I wasn’t sure why.
As a child, I remember my grandmother’s apartment being filled with books. They lined the walls, filled every coffee table cabinet. They were everywhere. Mind you they were mostly romance novels, horror, or science fiction, but I learned to love the smell and sight of books. From my grandmother’s collection I began reading Stephen King and Piers Anthony at age 10. I devoured them and the fantasy worlds the characters lived in. It was as if the gates were thrown wide open and I was given a key to every kingdom in the universe.
I have more books than anything else in my own apartment. They are neatly stored for the most part, but I have more than I think I will be able to read in my life. They make this house a home with a million built in vacations. So why was I sitting around watching TV instead of reading?
I made a decision to start tackling this collection of books so that I could pass them on to others to enjoy. This is where Rashomon saved the day.
I was looking for something very quick and east to get the ball rolling. I usually run for Willa Cather or Steinbeck or Marquez, but I wanted a new experience that was outside my realm of comfort. I had heard of Rashomon, but never read it. It was clean and crisp. The words elegant and expertly chosen. I felt as if I was in Japan.
When I was done with this book I felt that hunger for something more. I had missed that feeling. I do want to mention that my life had not been completely devoid of reading. For the last 6 months I had been reading a lot of Buddhist texts from various rinpoches while also reading a biography of Edith Halpert who was key in the American Modern Art movement. These types of work, though still reading, use a different part of the brain. They don’t transport me to foreign lands or let me become any particular character. Fiction has its own mystical quality that allows me to let go of the world I live in for a little while, for good or bad, and drift off.
Here is to a new year’s worth of adventures on the page.