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Confession of a Bookworm

The pandemic has forced many live television programs to improvise. TV personalities who previously shared a broadcast desk in the studio have relocated to maintain social distancing. With some trepidation, news anchors, and the hosts of my favorite program, The View – are broadcasting from their homes. Certainly, they are aware that while viewers are listening to their talking head, we are observing the scene behind them.

I shamefully admit that I know that I am not the only one looking to see if the camera will reveal dust bunnies or a water ring on a shiny wooden tabletop or a picture hanging crooked on the wall. I also know that it is unlikely that the television audience will see those flaws because, before going on air, every conscientious TV personality will make sure that everything that can be caught by the eye of the camera is perfect. A lot of businesses may have closed since the pandemic began, but house cleaning services must be thriving.

Frequent users of Zoom will tell you that if there is a blemish within camera range or a zit on your face Zoom will magnify it.

Aside from small children and pets who thoughtlessly make an unexpected appearance behind the broadcaster, there is one thing that I notice is often prominently displayed. Books. Most of them are stored on bookshelves; others are cleverly placed on a tabletop to the left or right of the speaker, and sometimes adjacent to a vase of flowers or framed photos. Above all other props, books dominate.

I am not ashamed to admit that there have been a few occasions when the bookworm in me has slithered up close to the TV, sometimes tilting my head to read book titles behind the person at the forefront of the screen. I’m looking to see what books I don’t own and perhaps have never heard of that I think I might like to read. I’ve given up trying to whittle down my booklist. It’s impossible, because every time I check-off a book that I’ve finished, I wind up adding another one or two or three to the “must-read” column.

When I was working, I was buying books like a numismatist collects coins. With my bookshelves overflowing, I began storing books in boxes, on the closet shelf, on the nightstand, anywhere and everywhere in my home where there was space. For years, I used to promise myself that after I retired, I’d have time to read every book I owned. But when that time came, I discovered that the more time we think we have, the less time there is. Just as a job and things related to it like commuting, overtime, out-of-town travel, etc., leaves little time in each day for leisure undertakings – like reading – being retired doesn’t mean the time won’t get consumed by other activities. (Ah, so many books, so little time.)

Not to be judgmental, but I find it inconceivable that there are people who don’t like to read. I know some wonderful people who admit it. Certainly, they can read, and they do – only when necessary. Perhaps because I’ve had a love affair with books all my life, it is hard for me to imagine anyone who does not feel the same way, but you know – different strokes.

Educators tell us that books are nourishment. Brain food. Not only do they educate and entertain us, they also increase our vocabulary and improve our analytical and writing skills. I’ve found that reading also has a soothing effect. Can’t sleep? Grab a book, get engrossed in a chapter, and see if you don’t soon nod off.  Listening to an audiobook can also send you straight to dreamland.

I totally agree with booklover and 15th Century philosopher Desiderius Erasmus who believed, “Your library is your paradise.” His more familiar statement describes me to a T, “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” Don’t tell the fashion police, but I’d rather be a bookworm engrossed in a good book, then a fashionista dressed to impress.

Before I die, I aim to finish reading every book in my collection. Sometimes, I think it might be intriguing to have inscribed on my gravestone, “Here lies a bookworm who read every book she owned.”

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