So this is a weird thing: I haven’t been reading much this past year. Sure, I read shit all day on my phone, on my computer, and in random newspapers and magazines, but I haven’t really dug into a great book in so. fucking. long.
This is not okay; this is not who I am. I grew up to the constant refrain of, ‘Stephanie, get your nose out of that book.’ In fact, I heard that so much I should get that as my next tattoo. I would hide books in my desk so I could read them while ostensibly doing my homework, I would take a blanket and read in the yard when told to go outside, I would stay up past my bedtime to finish ‘just one more chapter.’ As I got older I found solace in books, reading three novels a week when my ex boyfriend died while I was living overseas. I lost myself in adventure, plowing through The Lord of the Rings trilogy in less than a week at my cottage. I dedicated my academic pursuits to my love of reading, deciding a simple English major wasn’t enough and going for specialized honours—so what the fuck is wrong with me now?
Bogart presented me with his favourite novel on my birthday. We had only been dating a month or so, and his inscription was perfect (plus I kind of had a feeling that was what he planned to get me—we’re terrible at secrets and great at guessing each other’s gifts). Unfortunately, I’ve been stuck about halfway through for months, a fact he loves to tease me about. He’s read the entire Dark Tower series plus a bunch of other books since we’ve been dating, and I can’t even finish a fucking children’s novel about tragic rabbits. Sure, I half-heartedly limped my way through a re-reading of It and I’ve read a smattering of noncommital nonfiction, but seriously: what the fuck is wrong with me? I am a Reader. A friend loaned me his favourite book at Christmas (over which he and Bogart had a very disconcerting Stepbrothers-style bonding moment and now he refers to me as ‘Bogart’s girlfriend’) and I haven’t even touched it. I’ll occasionally get sassy texts asking if I’ve read it yet and a reminder of how many months it’s been.
The last book that got me really excited (and by excited I mean I couldn’t put it down ) was actually a nonfiction about Scientology called Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (sidebar: if you haven’t read this book, buy it as soon as you finish reading this blog) last fucking summer. Some pretty big shit hit the fan just around this time, and I’m still dealing with it in a few areas. Me not reading was one such area, and when I decided I wanted to seek out a therapist again, it was one of the first things I mentioned as a huge red flag that things were indeed rotten in my internal state of Denmark.
So why is this relevant now? I was walking through Indigo after stopping by Starbucks to feed my matcha addiction on Friday when a display caught my attention. A very excited gentleman came up to me to talk about the book I was eyeing. ‘This won the International Booker Prize this year! It’s about a Korean woman who becomes a vegetarian, and it’s not very well received there, you know.’ He hadn’t finished his sentence before the book was in my hand. ‘It’s really strange but nice the way it’s written, it’s short but so powerful.’ Sold. While I wasn’t a vegetarian myself when I lived in Korea, I had enough friends who were. The combination of vegetarianism-as-othering, location nostalgia, and a gripping read sparked the thought that it just might be enough to get me out of this slump.
Guess what? It worked! I finished the hauntingly beautiful tale of the otherwise unremarkable Korean wife who stops eating meat, and the surreal impact this one small decision has on her entire family. Along the way Bogart and I picked up a lovely new habit of reading together before we fall asleep—something I did religiously every night for over two decades that got lost in 12 short months. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to refill my mug and get cozy with a warren of rabbits that have been waiting far too long to share their journey with me.