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Lack of interest in television drives writer to finally dive back into books

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By Stacey Manning, Managing Editor

As a newspaper person with more than 10 years of writing under my belt—and a lifetime of passion for writing before that—it would be easy to assume I’m quite a reader. Toss in the fact my mother was rarely spotted anywhere without a book in hand, and it would be simple to peg me as a bookworm.

But somehow, unlike other writers I know, the bug to read, the obsession to peruse everything literary, somehow escaped me. I’ll blame it partly on rebellion—mom always had a book in tow, so I never wanted one.

When I was in school, I had to do enough reading for classes; I hated the thought of doing it when I didn’t have to.

As an adult, my lack of interest in reading for fun was tied directly to my job. After reading and writing all day, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was stare at more words.

It’s also partly the fault of my upbringing. Although mom was a voracious reader, she was also a single parent who often worked two jobs. As I grew up and babysitting expenses increased, I became a latchkey kid.

It was a scary time in the ’80s when parents feared the fate of little Adam Walsh could suddenly be the same for their children. That meant once I was safely home from school, doors were to be locked and remained unanswered until mom was back inside.

After homework was finished, much of my time was spent in front of the television set, escaping reality and taking in as much as I could of everything inside that square box.

This is the part where I confess to being a television junkie.

So as I rebelled against extracurricular reading, I sunk deeper into the black hole of television. It was, unfortunately, a habit that has followed me well into adulthood. Television became my security blanket—constant noise in the background and escape from whatever woes that troubled me.

But quite suddenly, and unexpectedly, about two months ago I was jostled from TV-land and found myself incredibly uninterested in the words and pictures on the screen. My TiVo and DVR, which both were often recording simultaneously, started to collect dust, recording and recording until full.

My tryst with television became limited to an occasional stop-by to delete the growing recording lists and ultimately to remove the recording history to stop most shows from being captured at all.

With television out of the way, and no real explanation other than it suddenly bored me, I found myself with a lot more free time.

Without television, what’s a girl to do after reading thousands of words at work all day? Well, start reading for pleasure, of course.

I eased back into leisurely reading with the long recommended and at the time up-and-coming movie of “Marley and Me.” The book by journalist John Grogan had me laughing out loud, gasping, shaking my head and ultimately crying.

The recommendation came well earned. I couldn’t put it down and devoured it in a few hours.

Hot off other recommendations came the “Twilight” series. Designed for younger readers, plenty of adults had read right through the four-part series and recommended if I was looking for something entertaining to pass the time, I should pick it up. So I did.

From the first book I was hooked. I found myself wanting to steal away moments during the day to see what was next and used lunch breaks to turn pages.

Fearful my newly acquired taste for reading would be fleeting, I opted to buy the books instead of checking them out, so I could take time to make it all the way through. That became a problem itself because it seemed as every other person in Brunswick County was reading the series at the same pace as me.

Every time I went to purchase the next edition after completing one, I’d find the local discount store all sold out.

When I eventually stumbled on the last two hardbacks at the same place, I bought both, just in case.

Good plan.

Reading? For fun? I thought it was just a job. Who would have thought my mother’s words would have ever rung so true?

Pardon me while I end this now… I’ve got to hurry home; there are more words for me to read.