Somewhere along the way, I stopped reading for fun. I would consume books, but I wouldn't necessarily enjoy them. I would mine them, pick them apart, highlight them and convince myself the time was efficiently spent because I would use what I learned later.
I would leverage books; I would not relish them.
Somewhere along the way, my books migrated. They were on my iPad with my social media accounts and other distractions. I would change the music I was listening to halfway down each page. I would tweet out quotes from the book from another app. I would get the latest headlines and see if current events were somehow relevant to the book I was reading. Then, I would watch videos of other things that were totally not relevant to the book. Then, I would get hungry, put the iPad down and go find something to eat.
Whither the book?
Recently, I returned to the screen -- not for books, but for comfort. A new house has creaks and moans to which you are not accustomed. The upstairs neighbor's routine is still a mystery -- one that surprises you at 2 AM then again at 3 AM. The overload of inputs led me to find comfort in sounds I recognize.
So, I'd watch online videos end-to-end until I fell asleep. Episodes of late-night comedy shows and movies I'd already seen sent me into slumber. The screen's glow would keep me company late into the night, and the sounds would soothe my over-stimulated mind.
There was a problem. The videos wouldn't stop. As soon as I'd fall asleep, a movie would end, leading me, panicked, to hit play on the next in queue. Eventually, the evening would pass, the night would pass and the morning would arrive with me having little-to-no sleep to show for it.
It was unsustainable. A habit was forming that needed to be broken.
I looked to my bookshelf and found a book gifted to me by a friend. Desperate to find an alternative to my streaming habit, I started flipping the pages. There were no alerts, no siren calls of apps, no ability to instantly share quotes.
I was alone, but my mind wasn't lonely anymore.
Then, the book swallowed me and dragged me back in time. I felt like I was a kid again, sitting in the back of the family hatchback on a long road trip, wrapped in a galaxy far, far away.
Instead of Star Wars, this book was Neil Gaiman's novel, "The Ocean at the End of the Lane". I highly recommend it. Beyond giving me the gift of a great story, it broke my late-night video habit, giving me some of the best sleep I have had in months.
I'll be on to Yuval Noah Harari's "Sapiens" next. I am staring at the book as I write this. I'll miss Giaman's fast-moving fiction, but I'm eager to feel another book's pages beneath my fingers as I embrace the now-familiar creaks and moans of my not-so-new home.
On to the five (complete with some reading lists)...