I've read ten novels so far this year. These are serious literary novels, some of which are over 500 pages, and I say that not to be superior but to make the point that this is not easy, mindless reading. It is thouhtful reading, but it is also an escape for me and always has been. My housework has definitely suffered as I get through the early part of my night - dinner for kids and dog, mail, some picking up and evening discussion with kids about homework and school and activities. And then my beloved chaise in my room or my beloved chaise in my living room ("Why do you have two?" my mother once asked me. Um...because I don't have three yet?) to read and read and read. I started a book last Thursday (The Garden of Last Days
- a terrorist, a stripper and a redneck interact in the week before 9/11) and when I picked it up Friday night I read until 11pm and seriously considered reading all through the night. I can't remember the last time I did that or even thought about it. I stopped at midnight like a responsible adult and when I woke up Saturday I immediately thought about my book, so I made coffee, let the dog out, and spent Saturday morning reading.
I was a ravenous reader as a kid. I visited the school library every day during the school year and the city library every day in the summer. I read as I walked home on the familiar path from the library. I lay on the merry go round in the park across the street, the couch, the hammock, my bed, the floor - I did not have a chaise yet. :-)
We moved from Denver, CO to the Sandhills of Nebraska when I was 8 years old. I got a pile of books from the children of a family friend and in the pile of books was a small book with a picture of a little girl in a room surrounded with curtains. It was a pencil drawing colored only in pink for the curtains. The Velvet Room
is about a little girl in the Depression whose parents are migrant farmers. At one farm she discovers a key and a secret entrance to a house that has been locked up years ago. There is a round turret room with red velvet curtains window seats. The walls are covered with books. She hides there and reads as often as she can.
Reading creates a velvet room for me. It always has. There are times in my life where I flee to a book and hide or take a break from life. That's absolutely what I am doing right now.
Six months ago I was so stressed out that I was not sleeping and when I got my teeth cleaned I literally fell asleep in the dental hygenist's chair. I was nervous and anxious. I could not sit still enough to read for long stretches of time. I stayed in motion - sweeping, polishing, washing and folding and organizing. My house has never looked so good. I am in a better place now. I am able to focus and relax into a book. The housework can wait.