Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Reading vs. Television

I'm going to tell you something, but I'm afraid that if I do without a bunch of caveats, you'll think I'm trying to be pious.  I'm sooooo not!

Max and I got rid of our television a couple of years ago and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. 

Now see ... you went there, didn't you!  Turn around ... go back ... there, that's better.

I still watch television shows.  I have a good number of them saved in my account and every week they pop up in my player so that I can enjoy watching them.  I haven't given up my favorite shows, what I have given up is the mindless vegetation that I found myself doing night after night, day after day for ... oh, about 15 years. 

If I didn't want to think about a problem I was having, I would sit down and watch television.  We left the damned thing on all the time. I liked having noise in the house when I left the animals alone and honestly, when I was stressed out and up in the middle of the night, I would lay down on the couch and watch stupid stuff until I drifted off.

The worst thing about the entire situation was that I had quit reading novels.  I was reading a lot of non-fiction for the various things that I was studying or working on, but with all the time that I spent in front of the television, I didn't have time for reading. I could knit, talk to friends, play on the internet, do a multitude of things with the television going in the background, but I had quit reading.

We had talked about getting a large, flat-screen, HD television with all the bells and whistles, but about that time I got my Kindle, turned off the television and realized that I just didn't care whether we had one in the house or not.

Ok ... see, I'm trying so hard not to even intimate that there is a reason to be pious about this.  We still have a cable box, it's hooked up to Max's computer screen - which happens to be an HD screen with all of the right inputs.  If there is a show we want to watch, we can ... see, I'm just not all that pious about this.

But, on the other side of this, I simply don't use the system.  If he could get his football games online, we'd get rid of the cable box, too. 

I've discovered that if I have a choice between spending an hour watching a television show or reading a novel on my Kindle, 85% of the time, I pull out the Kindle and settle in for some reading.  I didn't realize how much I missed the worlds that reading opened up to me.  When I read a book, the words the author has written describe the world, but my mind fills in all of the images and tends to create more than exists on the printed page.

When I watch a television show, the crew that builds the sets, designs the costumes, speaks the lines and directs the action fills in everything for me.  I don't have to participate at all.  I just have to watch it happen, go to the bathroom when a commercial comes on and settle in until the credits begin rolling. 

I have nothing against that.  In fact, there are so many amazing, creative television shows being produced right now that I love watching them.

But, I love my books even more.

One of the greatest joys I have is listening as Carol tells me how her sixth graders get all wrapped up in the novels she exposes them to in her classroom.  This is a girl who never loved science fiction and thought that my brother and I were a little nuts because we so passionately loved it.  She reads it like crazy now and is constantly purchasing new books for her kids to read.  Since she reads the books, they read the books and they love it!  It doesn't even bother me to have to replace books in her classroom because the kids 'forget' to bring them back.  Oh, for heaven's sake - a kid wants to keep a book?  Words on a page?  I'll replace the book. 

When we were very, very young I was already a reader who didn't just read, but consumed books.  Carol and Jim weren't quite as enamored with the printed page.  Mud, dirt and grass were a little more interesting.  But, mom paid them 25 cents / book one summer to motivate their reading.  It didn't take any more than that summer for both of them to become passionate about reading ... everything they could get their hands on.  Our house was always filled with books, it was the one thing that mom and dad never felt bad about purchasing, even when we didn't have much money (yes, we used the library, too).

I'm so glad to have renewed my love affair with fiction.  I won't even tell you how many books I've purchased and read on the Kindle in the last few years.  It's kind of sick.  But, I will tell you that I read all the time now, choosing that over a television show or nearly anything else.  It's so much fun!

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