“To feed your brain, fool.” – Fudge, Higher Learning
“My alma mater was books, a good library. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.” – Malcolm X
One of the non-negotiable activities in life, on par with family, working out, and Dallas Cowboys football, is reading. It is something that is done in some form, each and every day. It is deliberate, it is intentional, and it is necessary. If it wasn’t for reading, too much time would be spent doing things that would likely lead to trouble. Reading brings clarity, peace, joy, and understanding to a life that is often routine, frustrating, and full of uncertainty. However, the process of reading isn’t done for certainty as the ending factor; it’s done because there is fun in being lost in someone’s story and it provides a reprieve from being lost in one’s own.
Reading is done anywhere and everywhere: at the house, at work, in the airport, at the washerteria, at Starbucks, on the train; there is no place or location that is immune to reading. If the book is thick as hell, like the Stephen King one which is being read right now, it’s lugged around in a bag. If it’s a thin read and can be palmed in one hand, then it’s carried around freely. A book is the one thing that can have wear and tear and still holds a certain fascination. The fascination stems from knowing the story contained in those pages has been consumed, in some fashion, which contributes to feeding the brain.
Regardless of the size, any book on this side is always in traditional book form. Reading from an e-book is not something that has been embraced, and likely never will. Thumbing through the pages of a book, folding a page at the top-corner to mark a stopping point, using bookmarks, and simply having a book around all contribute to the fun of a book. Reading is the one activity where time is spent and compensation of any kind is not the end goal. It is simply wanting to enjoy the words, the process, the story. The story doesn’t even have to guarantee a good time, and while a good time is the goal, it isn’t deemed a complete failure if a book is wack.
The first memory of reading is from book fairs in elementary school. Back in the day, book fairs would come to the school and the challenge was finding ways to buy as many books as possible with the little money that was available. The seeds of a bookworm were laid with “There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom” by Louis Sachar. There may have been books read before that, but it’s the first book of memory and the time when the addiction to reading began. Reading books became an exercise that took the place of so many other things simply because when it was time to get out of school, the things to do were to play with kids in the neighborhood and go do some reading. It was easy to stay out of trouble.
Ironically, the same can be said now and, these days, more time is spent reading books than with people. Hell, if it wasn’t for having a job where interacting with people is absolutely necessary to being effective, that time would be spent reading books and working out. When there’s downtime of any kind, it is likely to be spent in a book; even if only a few sentences of a paragraph are read, it’s progress. Excitement has been derived from reading Junot Diaz, Paulo Coelho, Harper Lee, and Colleen Hoover. Early mornings and late nights have been spent plowing through pages written by Eldridge Cleaver, Beverly Tatum, David Ritz, and Sonia Sotomayor. If there are other activities which bring steady and sustained satisfaction besides reading, then they haven’t come to the forefront yet. Any other activities, whether it’s being in the company of a nice lady, or hanging with friends and family are cool and all, but those activities tend to run their course and, eventually, all roads end up back in between the pages of a book.
Over the course of the next two months, there are books waiting to be read. Shoe Dog, the memoir from Phil Knight is one. Let’s Go Crazy, a book about Prince and the Making of Purple Rain written by Alan Light as well as I Would Die 4 U, a second book about Prince written by Toure are others. A fourth book, titled Undocumented by Dan-El Padilla Peralta, waits in the wings as well. Two of them are already at the house while the other two sit in the Amazon cart waiting to be purchased, which will happen sooner than later. As mentioned earlier, it’s easy to stay out of trouble when roughly 1,200 pages of storytelling await and those are just the four books listed. It’s a simple, yet exciting activity that will always be a part of this life being lived.