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:~: Monday, May 15, 2006 :~:

How To Make A Reader out of a Non-Reader

My DH doesn't enjoy reading. Don't get me wrong, he reads the sports page and the newspaper on the rare occasion he happens to pick one up, and he spends hours reading clinicals about heart disease and diabetes and drug interactions in the human body for work. But he doesn't like to read for pleasure. In the fourteen years we've been married, I've never once seen him curve into the sofa with a good book and just read for the pure enjoyment of reading.

Occasionally he'll buy a nonfiction book with the goal to actually sit down and read it. Right now on the shelf in his office he has Lance Armstrong's Every Second Counts, John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and a whole slew of baseball coaching books he ordered this spring before his coaching season started. Has he read any of them? Nope. Has he opened a single one? Double nope.

We're very different creatures, him and I. I would pretty much rather read (and write) than do anything else. I've asked him why he has such an aversion to reading, and his response has always been that he reads so much for work during the day that the idea of reading during his relaxing hours doesn't sound appealing. That's probably true, but I think an even bigger part of it is that no one ever read to him as a kid, and he never learned the benefits of reading just for the sake of reading.

So Friday night, he and I went out on a date. Rarely happens around here because it's increasingly difficult to find a babysitter for the three Gremlins, but on this day Grandma came over to stay with them. We went out for a leisurely dinner, and after decided we didn't have enough time to make the movie we'd planned to see. As it turns out, there happened to be a Borders a few doors down from the restaurant we ate at, so I suggested we hit the bookstore before we went home.

My DH, being the great guy he is, agreed even though he probably would have rather slit his wrists, and we went inside. I went right for the stacks, he made an immediate left-hand turn toward the cafe to get coffees. (See this? Already avoiding the books. I liken it to the way my eyes gloss over when he takes me to Home Depot.) Long minutes later, he found me in the romance section where I was looking for Judith McNaught's new book, Every Breath You Take.

With nothing else to do while I was perusing, and knowing darn well he wasn't going to be able to get me out of there until I was ready to go, he rattled off titles and then cracked himself up with his own torrid versions. He sipped his coffee, pulled books off the shelf and went searching for bodice-popping covers to make fun of. (He is a guy, after all.) And then he found the erotica section.

He got quiet real quick. My ears perked at the silence, and I looked over to see he was actually reading something. Imagine my surprise. I joined him. He'd found an Emma Holly book that got really steamy, really fast. I suggested we get it. He figured he was gonna get lucky and agreed. I was simply elated because he was reading.

So we took the book up to the front, and as we neared the counter I saw the new Crusie/Mayer book, Don't Look Down and veered off to scope it out. He took the book to the counter where the young female clerk eyed it and said, "Ooh. Emma Holly. Steamy late night reading?" I think my DH actually blushed, although I didn't see it. According to him, he shrugged in that nonchalant guy way, nodded his head behind him and said, "It's for her." The clerk lifted her brow and asked, "Who?" My DH turned and saw I wasn't there then looked back at the clerk. She only smiled and bagged the book. He shook his head and frowned, knowing full well what she was thinking. And as he stepped away, she shouted so everyone in the store could hear her, "Enjoy your steamy book!"

I've never seen my DH so happy to get out of a bookstore in all my life. He found me and herded me toward the door, but not before the clerk saw him again and shouted the same thing. I think I will be lucky to ever get him to go back into a bookstore with me again.

I thought for sure that would turn him off to reading, right there. But you know what? He actually read a whole chapter yesterday afternoon when the kids were outside and he was bored. Of course, now he has these "ideas" I write the same sort of thing - which I don't - and I've had to set him straight about it a few times, but if it triggers something that shows him reading can be fun, then I'm all for it.

I'm starting my kids a lot earlier on the whole reading-for-the-enjoyment-of-reading thing. They love books, all kinds - board books, picture books, chapter books - and my seven-year-old is constantly asking me what I'm writing and what the computer "says". I want them to love reading as much as I do and to use it to develop their minds and imaginations. There's nothing better than a good book, except maybe writing a good book. And maybe someday my kids will do that, too.

So the point of this long post is to inspire you to go read something today simply for the joy of reading. Not because you have to but because you want to. Books are the best form of entertainment there is. And if my DH can do it, so can you.


Blogger Paty Jager said...

It's funny. I read to all the kids when they were young. We read every night before they went to bed, and I'd read to them during the day if they brought me a book. But you know, my oldest son balked at reading chapter books for book reports. Every time the class went to the library to get books for reports, he'd come back with two nonfiction books. The teachers would get after him to read fiction for his reports. I was just ecstatic he was reading!

Then he went into the Air Force. While overseas he picked up a book. Just so happened to be a western romance. (He said there wasn't much choice). Anyway he loved the book. And I sent him some more westerns, not romance and he read those while he was there, but as soon as he came home, he was back to working on cars and not reading again.

My dh only reads equipment manuals, the stockman's journal and the newspaper. He has never even picked up a fiction book. But my girls read to their kids all the time. It will be interesting to see how many of them read for fun. Both the girls do. Though they have never been the avid readers I was as a child and teenager. Books were my way of getting out of the valley I lived in and learning about the world.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Liz that's hysterical!!!!!!

7:42 PM  

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