Confessions of an Illiterate, Part Two

Not reading books has changed me. Once a championship speller, my speling is now terribole. My grammar has deteriorated. Sometimes I’ll mumble a word if I’m not sure about it, or recast a sentence in a different tense. That used to be one of my favorite things to do with words, only now, well, I’m not so sure my new sentence would be correct.

But grammar and spelling are mechanics. Not reading books has cut me off from Book people. I miss talking about books. I miss browsing in bookstores. Hanging out in libraries. Meeting the author. The world of books was always my home. I feel diminished. I feel cast out.

What I’ve learned from all of this is that reading has profound, positive effects on us. This isn’t news, of course, but it’s been a strangely reaffirming experience, seeing the truths about reading proven true firsthand. When you stop for a while, things start to fade away and the world seems a lot more ordinary, the mind, less sharp. Perhaps more than anything, I miss my escape.

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Some of you have suggested I try Books on Tape. It’s a good idea. It feels a little too passive for me, but I’m giving it a try with Go Set A Watchman.

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Next time I’ll talk about what I do read.

The Hospital Gives Me Good Advice

Earlier today, I thought it might be a good idea to read the papers I signed last week at the hospital.  I sat down with a cold glass of Gatorade, and readied myself for some serious legal obfuscation. Just as my eyelids started to blink their way to slumberland, my eye caught on the word “provocative.” That woke  me. Was there something unusual about my treatment?  I read the whole sentence and discovered that we were being asked not to wear provocative clothing at the hospital.

Given that we’re going to be traipsing in and out of the hallways of a mental hospital, this is probably very good advice. This hospital treats some tragically ill people. Some of them are ambulatory. As sick as I am, I don’t live in the same universe as these residents, thank goodness. I’m “just depressed.”  I’ve seen enough of severe illness firsthand  to know enough to leave my Donna Karan shiny, black mini-skirt and fishnets at home.  Because you never know who’s going to join you for lunch Imagein the cafeteria.