One of the major parts of being a writer is being a reader. I know that adoring books inspired me to write a few. But I ignored that part of me after my attack (almost two years ago now). One of the things people don’t tell you about PTSD is that it takes away your ability to focus for a while. I couldn’t believe that after devouring books by the thousands, I didn’t want to read anything. I realized that almost all entertainment is violent; TV, movies, books–they were all out of the question for me. I liked Neil Gaiman and thought I could watch American Gods. What a crazy mistake. I was having a panic attack within five minutes. I used to binge space operas and missed letting myself slide into a good story, but The Expanse was so loud and intense and terrifying.
For a time, I gave up. I threw myself into remodeling my house, knitting, and being the best biochemistry student. I continued to write poetry and other works prolifically, but I didn’t pick up a book. Can one have bibliophile dysfunction? I wondered. And no one could tell me when or if words would wrap themselves around me again.
I kept buying books, like a dragon hoarding gold. It’s ridiculous to know you’re not going to read a book, but to fill a shelf anyway. It was my small, stubborn act of faith. I piled poetry, nonfiction, and my favorites–Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Ransom Riggs, and Rick Riordan–all onto a shelf. And I moved those boxes, cherishing the To Be Read box above all others. I moved it in my van with the espresso machine, a place of honor. And I told myself, “I’m gonna need these.” And my husband didn’t say a word, and he held me when I cried about books. And he gave me a little smile when I piled more on the shelf.
Then, a wild thing happened–I bought a Patricia Briggs novel, and I read it. I did all of my classwork, got ahead in labs, and I laid in bed reading a book. I read Wild Sign and didn’t live in my world for a bit. I felt so broken like Anna, but along the road to recovery. She resonated with me. And I haven’t really stopped reading since. I haven’t made it through the stack I bought yet, but can you imagine the ink-and-paper feast I’ve had? I just finished reading Jim Butcher’s Peace Talks and Battleground, all in one week because I had them both. I’ve been eyeing Charlaine Harris’s Night Shift and Ransom Riggs’s Map of Days next. What’s on your to-be-read pile? Help me refill the shelf with good choices–anything but horror and westerns.