When I was a kid, people called me a bookworm a lot. Most of the kids meant it as a taunt but I would get this wide, impish little grin on my face, jut my chin out and go “heck yeah, I am”. Bookwork to me was a badge of honor, as it should be.
I still remember, clear as day, all the hours spent after school digging into Nancy Drew’s latest adventures in that one cozy corner of the school library. Or how I’d snuggle up in bed, wait for the light to go off from the crack under my door before turning on my tiny night-light and rebel past bedtime with my favorite fictional characters.
“She read about people she could never be and adventures she would never have.”
Back then, reading wasn’t the luxury it is now. The grown-ups would warn me that there would come a time when I wouldn’t be able to jump into the pages of a book and surrender myself to literary abandon. I scoffed at them. Me, the bookworm, ever walking around without a book in her hand or on her mind? Blasphemy! I staunchly believed that day would never come.
Oh, how I miss that blissful ignorance of my adolescence.
Long gone are the days I could let myself be whisked away by the pages on the surface of a page, falling into the spaces between the lines and in tandem with the story being told. Over the years, a block formed, manifesting from different things; be it work obligations or household chores, family plans or over-due catch-ups with friends.
The bookworm faded…but in the past week, I revived her.
Following the end of NaNo and the completion of my latest draft for my novel, I needed to give myself some space from writing before I jumped into it again. For me, that requires at least one week of absolutely zero writing-related tasks. It isn’t so much a detox as it is immersing myself in other creative activities. I decided, instead of bingeing TV shows and cinematic masterpieces, I would revisit the pleasures of reading.
I started reading The Illuminae Files.
And oh, how I read.
I can’t remember the last time I opened a book and hungrily turned the pages, unable to tear my eyes away from the page. I put my phone on DND mode, snuggled into a comfortable fortress made of pillows, and gave into the adventure the book(s) promised. There were moments I gasped and dropped the book, not expecting the twists. Others where I reached for a tissue to wipe my eyes, realizing I don’t have one and then going “to hell with it” and reading on.
Even in the hours that followed, my mind buzzed, alive with inspiration and I found myself grabbing my journal and jotting down rough ideas of my own, suddenly concocting up subplots for other stories I have planned or finding answers to plot holes I had discovered and buried in the back of my mind.
The best part wasn’t the result of reading – it was the experience itself.
I forgot how much I loved disconnecting from this world and jumping into another. There’s a sense of security I find in the pages of a book, the creation of another inspired artist who is an absolute stranger to me and yet someone capable of conjuring up worlds, characters and stories that make me feel at home.
That’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? To connect and be so deeply moved by these pieces of someone’s heart and imagination, etched into ink, dancing across the pages and coming alive in your mind.
I could travel to a hundred exotic cities, experience everything this world has to offer, and still never find that serenity I capture between the pages of a book in anything else.
I don’t know if Bookworm Beatrice is back to stay, but the past week has been eye-opening. The grown-ups were right. It’s hard to find the time to read when adulthood hits, and there are a hundred other responsibilities to tend to. But I can make the time, if I put my mind to it.
In the coming year, I intend to do just that.