Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Reading Warning

My grandma is great, but once upon a time she gave me a warning. I haven't thought about this warning for a long time, but for some reason I've been thinking about it a bit recently, so I thought I'd share it and see what you think.

My grandma, a hard working farm wife who had little time for leisure, knew I loved to read and I don't know if it bugged her, or worried her, or what exactly.  I would often spend several weeks of my summer there on the farm and it was wonderful change of pace for me. I went from the oldest of a huge family of kids living in the city, to an "only" child, and a farm girl at that. I loved it, and I'm sure I would spend much of my vacation moments reading.

So one time, and I was probably 13 or 14 or so,  I remember her saying as we drove past a farm house near where they lived ... "THIS is what will happen if you read too much." Now, I never did see the inside of that house, but the outside was very run down, lots of junk everywhere, neglected yard, etc. I imagine the inside to look a bit worn and weary too, a bit messy shall we say. I remember thinking at the time that she was just bugged that this lady did not take care of things like my grandma would have. But then I thought, wait... is she really blaming this on reading? Really? She must have known that that mom read a lot, but do you think that's why this place was neglected?

I don't know, but I do know that I never forgot what she said to me that day and I've always wondered how I was supposed to interpret it. Was she saying have balance? Was she saying work first and play later? Was she saying reading is bad? Was she saying some things are more important than other things?

Well, luckily, it didn't make me stop reading, but perhaps it did instill in me the little bit of guilt I have for reading "too much." Sometimes I look around and wonder if my grandma would think that my house has gotten to the level of someone who reads "too much." So I hope not. I hope that even with all the reading there is balance. That people and other things are not being neglected. That my grandma wouldn't be getting after me!

All that being said, my grandma would also take me to meet the bookmobile when it came around to their little town. I thought that was the coolest thing ever and would check out all sorts of books, and she didn't seem to mind one bit!

So, I don't know what this has to do with anything really except that I was just thinking about it and wondered if any other readers have had a similar reading warning given to them and how it affected their reading behaviors. Anyone?


  1. I think there is a lot of truth in what your Grandma said. If you read a lot then something has to give. I think it is important to spend lots of time with family and friends so if I want to spend a lot of time reading then I have to make some choices. I probably live in a home similar to the one your Grandma pointed out as I’d rather read than spend hours tidying. My driveway is full of leaves and my sister is always moaning about the cobwebs in the corners of my rooms. I keep a basic level of hygiene, but my sister spends her evenings cleaning. Yes, my house is cluttered and full of piles of books, but I quite like it that way. I’d rather read than live in an immaculate show home.

  2. I'm with farmlanebooks in that I'd rather read than live in an immaculate show home! Yes, my home is a little cluttered, but I think it's comfortable and looks "lived in" as opposed to stuffy and immaculate. I come from a family of readers, so don't recall anyone warning me about reading too much. Grandma was right about balance though, and I try not to let reading take over, but sometimes... ;)

  3. When my grandma was finished with all her chores for the day, she'd disappear for a while. No one ever said "where's grandma?"

    We knew she was tucked up in her room reading a Harlequin Romance and if she didn't doze off with her glasses on her forehead, she'd rejoin us in a little while.

    When we buried her, we tucked a Harlequin next to her and placed her reading glasses on her forehead. She damn near came back to life!

  4. I think there definitely should be balance in everything. I don't read quickly and I don't read as much as many other book bloggers, but that's because I work full-time, go to school part-time, have a husband, church responsibilities, and I like to spend time with family and friends. I just don't feel like I can neglect those things so I can read more.

    However, I know I could read more if I cut out things like watching TV or spending hours aimlessly surfing the Internet. I'm willing to cut those things out. I just need to do it. But, I get sidetracked, bored, and lazy so it's easier said than done.

    Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that I can see what your grandma is saying. And, I think it's all just a matter of choice and the level of addiction. ;) There does need to be balance, but we get to choose what we give up when we spend our time doing one particular thing and that's okay too.

  5. Farmlane: Some truth yes, but I still think that lady had "other" problems besides reading! But I do totally agree that immaculate is not my goal here either and cluttered is very very acceptable.

    Alexia: Balance is good for sure, and so is cluttered!

    Lesli: Wonderful story! I don't think I remember ever seeing my grandma read (the other one yes, but not this one). She could just not relax long enough.

  6. That is a good warning from your grandma. I myself have been guilty of the "reading too much" and my husband reminds me that he is out of clean socks. I usually try to keep things balanced and set up a schedule to do at least one chore each day and then dedicate the rest to reading.

    I do remember when I was younger my dad would ground me from books so that I would go outside in the summer and play. I never really understood that, I had plenty of friends and did play, I was physically active, I kept my room clean, but I had just decided to read a lot.

  7. Jenni: That's how I feel exactly! All very true.

    Ang: Isn't it funny how some parents beg their kids to read and others ground them from it! I was never ground from it, but I was frowned at a lot.

  8. +JMJ+

    Whether or not one is a big reader, there are trade-offs to everything. I had a roommate in uni who said she didn't want to do certain domestic duties everyday after she got married because they were "too time consuming" and would eat up time she wanted to devote to other activities.

    My incredulous answer: "Everything is time consuming! Even breathing! You just pick the one that's the best use of your time!" =P

    Like most bookworms, if I had to choose between getting my house perfectly spic-and-span and finishing a great read, well, the house would lose out. But I really don't think I'd let my home get to the state of the one in your memory! It's quite a dramatic example!

  9. Funny, I never got that warning from Grandma, but Mom. But in a different way, I believe she thinks I am not married because I have unrealistic expectations of men and love because of my reading. All I have to say is "oh, well". If I get married I can have romanitc thoughts about one man. In the mean time I get to have a romantic fling everytime I open a good book!

    As for the messy house, I enjoy reading so much more when my place is clean. I can sit on my couch and just enjoy my book because nothing else is hanging over my head. But that is a great perk of being single and loving to read. No kids to clutter the house or take to soccer or dance, no husband to make dinner for... In the summers I can sit and read the entire day without interruption (except for the snack monster that lives in my tummy). Summers for a single school teacher is BLISS!

  10. My mom was constantly reading and things were always a bit neglected but then she learned something useful. She just made US do the housework while she read! Now there's the key, just get your husband and boys to do the yard work, and your girls to clean the inside and you can just read. ;)

    I seem to remember you just talking about swiffering under your counter and vacuuming recently so I think you're safe.

  11. I have been told that I read too much, and yes, my housework gets a little bit neglected! Oh well....never mind!

  12. Oh, that makes me so sad.

    In today's world especially, literacy is no a luxury--it's a necessity. I suppose (like almost anything) it could be taken to an extreme, but if you can't read, write, and communicate effectively, you're far more likely to live in poverty than if you have decent literacy skills. Any job nowadays (including fast food) requires using a computer and basic reading skills.

    I could rant all day about how important reading is in the modern world. :)

    Let's just say I'm glad you didn't listen to your grandma that day.

  13. I was often chided for having "my nose in a book" but reading gave me such pleasure as a child/teenager, that I just ignored the comments. As an adult, I married someone who loves to read as much as I do, so I feel lucky in that regard.
    I agree with one of your earlier commenters, tho, that I enjoy my reading much more when my house is freshly cleaned :)

  14. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed reading it and the comments. I have felt, from certain people in my life, guilt about the fact that I read a lot. And, mostly, I think it comes from people who just don't understand reading. Yes, there should be balance, but everyone should spend time doing the things they love. And reading is something I love. And it's a good reminder for me not to judge other people's passions.



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