Every September, I get back into the classroom and, within a month, I catch a cold. I blame my students. They get it first, and then they proceed to coat every surface they touch with their contagion. Last year, the virus took up residence deep in my chest and overstayed its welcome by about six weeks. It was vicious. Several of my colleagues and even a few of my students developed secondary pneumonia. Thankfully, my family and I live in a state of lightly controlled squalor, so we’ve got exposure theory on our side. Our immune systems are primed and ready for battle, but I’ve got a secret weapon in my battle against the common cold: books!
And yet, here I am, all hopped up on cold meds (this might be a very interesting post), holed up in bed while the rest of the fam shares hot-wings and watches the Patriots game on TV. Now that I think of it, perhaps there are some perks to catching the annual back-to-school cold.
Books (in all forms) Make Everything Better!
If you’re anything like me, your “to read” list grows faster than your “have read” list does. One of the original Twilight Zone episodes that haunts me the most is “Time Enough At Last,” starring Burgess Meredith as a guy who just wants to be left alone so he can read his books. I won’t spoil the episode because it’s available on Amazon Prime (you should watch it), but the ending is tragic in a way that only a bibliophile can fully grasp.
Audiobooks have become a staple in my life these days, too. I check them out from my library, and I buy them via Audible.com. Whenever I’m in the car or out for a walk, I’m listening to a book. My students helpfully showed me how to overclock the reading speed to 1.25x, which shaves about 2.5 hours off of a 10-hour book. It’s amazing.
That said, as great as listening to books can be, it’s not quite the same as reading them myself.
I am a slow reader. A pathetically slow reader. And, since I’ve started up the Masters in Creative Writing program at Lesley University, my reading speed has slowed even further. Now I find myself reading at two levels. I used to read for the simple pleasure of getting lost in the story. Now, I pay close attention to word choice, verbs, description, pacing, syntax, structure, flow, et cetera. In other words, I read with a writer’s eye, which slows me down.
My current bout with the rhinovirus isn’t nearly as bad as last year. Last year, I felt like I was dying. This year, I just feel like someone has stuffed my sinuses with a soggy loaf of bread. Not pleasant, but it could be worse. It didn’t stop me from getting out to Barnes & Noble yesterday for a YA book event where I grabbed myself a few ARCs to read… eventually… when I find the time. (That’s them in the photo at the top of this post.)
I might be guilty of exaggerating my misery slightly so that my spouse keeps the kids at bay, but I’m not completely faking. I am in bed with a sinus headache, and I do have to rest up so that I can make it through teaching my classes next week.
But really, I just want to snuggle in and cherish this rare opportunity to READ!
Books make everything better. Aren’t they great? Have you ever used books to get through something unpleasant, like cold season?