Sometimes escapist, sometime mind-expanding: my relationship with novels

When I was a kid, I read.  I spent a great deal of my free time reading (and probably some that wasn’t considered “free” by the adults around me — time when my mom wanted me to be doing chores, or even time when I was expected to be paying attention in class.)

I was teased by my family about how much I read, but I was targeted (bullied) in school and rarely had  friends.  Books provided escape, another life, a type of freedom that I did not have of know how to create in myself at that time.  Sure there was pleasure in reading, but more importantly there was escape.  It was a way out of the unpleasant social world that I inhabited.  At that point, I would never have questioned whether it was useful to me to read so much.

Now, as an adult I have a mixed relationship with reading, at least with reading fiction.  I certainly love books and bookstores.  I have a weakness for purchasing books, although I’m much more likely to buy non-fiction works — I don’t often buy novels.  I enjoy really good, solid novels, however, I read a lot of crap (mostly detective novel type stuff).  I do this when I am stressed and tired.  It’s easy, unchallenging reading and it seems like a good idea at the time.  when I am in the stressful situation, I actually crave it,  and I believe that I just “need a break.”  But then I usually read longer than I intended to, and it can suck up time from activities that have more chance of improving my emotional status in a more lasting way.  It is such a long-established coping mechanism, however, that I sometimes don’t even question it.

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3 thoughts on “Sometimes escapist, sometime mind-expanding: my relationship with novels

  1. I’m a fellow lifelong book lover. Recently, I’ve only been able to read non-fiction though. That actually inspired my blog to begin with – summarizing action points from what I was reading. I think even if reading is used to escape, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of other things you value, is just fine. We all need a little escape sometimes 🙂

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