Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Permission to read, please.

book tea copy

I used to read all the time.  It was my comfort, my respite, my escape.  But, I also got in a lot of trouble for reading.

book tea copyWhen I was young, I’d hide a book under the dinner table and I got smacked for it, more than once. For reasons I didn’t quite understand, I was told it was considered disrespectful to the other people at the table.  The people who argued with one another and mostly ignored me or said mean things to me, yet I was the one who was the least respectful.

I used to love to read comics.  My dad once brought a huge 25 gallon bucket full of comic books home to me and I read my way through every single one twice.  But, one day, when I didn’t respond when he called to me from another room, he flew into a rage and threw them all away.

My favorite book of all time was a big red book of “Great Stories for Young Readers” and it was taken away from me by a bully of a man when I was about 12 years old.  Two years ago, my best friend found a copy and gifted me with it.  I’ve been afraid to open it, because I feel as though the ghosts of my youth will somehow return to punish me for revisiting the words.

Over the years, reading has somehow become synonymous with being a bad girl.  Reading became the sign of a neglectful and disrespectful person.  It was the vile and disgusting habit (according to some) that was going to be the thing that prevented me from becoming a real adult or functioning member of a household or society at large.

For years I would read in machine-gun bursts.  Snippets here, snippets there.  An online article was acceptable, because it was quick and gone into the ether when you were done. No evidence left behind.  News headlines from websites are easily digested.  Brief emails.  A magazine article on the side of the bathtub.  Reading was something to be done in no more than 15 minute increments, so that there would be time to do truly important things.  Things to be done that reading would only get in the way of.

It has probably ruined the deeper wiring of my brain, these staccato bursts of information.

My heart hurts sometimes to remember how blissful the world was when I could crawl inside a book and lose myself for hours at a time.  I’m even more saddened to think that as a full-grown adult, the one who is actually in charge, I cannot find it in my heart to give myself permission to read.

Author Julia Cameron has been quoted as saying, “Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence.”  My head is not so silent a place.  The sound of a thousand voices and a million thoughts makes it pretty noisy up in there.  For me, reading is the place where the peace is.  It plunges me into a realm where I have to step one word at a time into a more blissful spot.  Even a book about conflict and chaos is bundled up into a string, one word after another and there is order and structure.  A thing of beauty, really.

One of the items on my To Do List this year is to give myself the authorization to get lost in the words on a page.  Not just the ones that fall out of my fingers or pen – but the ones that are waiting for me in the nooks and crannies of my days, begging me to come and join them.

“Six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress by 68%.”  I read that somewhere.  So, I’m going to give myself permission to read much more this year.  And not stress about it, either.

xo – t.


“There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.” – Maurice Sendak

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“He that loves reading has everything within his reach.” – William Godwin

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Nelson Mandela