When I use a hashtag or caption that says “loving reading” or similar, it can sound so false, forced and faked. It can sound as if I’m just doing it to grab attention, and, whilst obviously there is an element of wanting to expand an audience, the statement itself is completely true.
I’ve had periods in my life when I didn’t read so much (hello single motherhood of a newborn), but books have always featured heavily in my life. My husband is a big reader too, although he tends to become utterly exasperated with me as he’s the “read it once and send it to the charity shop” type of reader. My son however has inherited my belief: if you love a book, you keep that book. Obviously he’s still growing, and so the books he’s reading change frequently, although as a very capable reader approaching double digits, he could probably easily cope with the lexicon of many of the books I read, even if they would be unsuitable for him. Nobody panic, I’m not going to hand him a murder mystery to solve (although I DID recently lend him “The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nighttime”, having read it at what I thought was around his age, but on reflection was a bit older. He loved it.
Anyway. Off track, never a surprise. If motherhood changed my approach to reading, it was to make me more grateful for times when I could sit and read. I was a young single mum, so at nineteen I was living in a little bungalow with my one year old, and various illnesses, meaning whenever he napped, I was back in bed too. My time became very limited, as it does when you have a baby, and even more so as a single parent. So when I COULD sit down to read of an evening, the time was precious and I would devour those pages. I’d always loved to read, but that sensation of knowing I was on borrowed time until he woke up next reignited the magic.
Before all of that, back to being a child, I always had my nose in a book. There were always new books at birthdays and Christmas. People would give me book vouchers for birthdays those too, and honestly I’m still very excited with that as a gift. Certain books evoke such powerful memories, I can remember exactly where I was when certain things happened in them, what the weather was like, what that moment tasted and smelled like. Truly a unique thing with books, the blending of two worlds with each page turned.
Some books become so vivid you have to remind yourself there ARE two difficult worlds and that you’re not about to get eaten by a dragon or expelled or destroyed politically. The type of book that hangs around with you, and the type of character you can’t stop thinking about, is often the sign of a damn good book. The “what happened next” that follows you around, and you find yourself almost day dreaming in a way of wonder, having been captured so heart and soul by words on a page. Because those words spring into life. They become companions of an evening or bus journey or bath. You want to sit and talk to them, talk it all through, have a conversation that is deep and meaningful to you both, because by now you KNOW what that other person would want to talk about too. They become friends, enemies, parents, siblings, teachers, colleagues.
So when you see someone having put something like #lovetoread, it might not just be because they’re far too cool for school. It might be that they love to read. Loving reading isn’t like loving ice cream. It’s magic.