Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Discovering New Ways to Enjoy Reading and Pass the Joy Along

I’m a reader usually with two or three books going at one time. I tend to keep at hand fiction for bedtime, a business book for the morning hours when my mind is sharp, and a contemporary non-fiction or self-improvement book for times when I take a quiet break late in the day. I reserve magazines like The Rotarian, National Geographic Traveler, or Family Motor Coaching for the seven minutes I spend each morning blow drying my shoulder length hair.

My past career as a traveling consultant gave me ample time to indulge in reading too. Long flights, hour upon hour of weather delays, and simply passing time between walking through airport security and the boarding sometimes gave me as much as six to eight hours in a single block of time to read. And, when making the four-hour drive between Whitehouse, Texas and Houston, Texas twice a month for the past three years, I stayed awake and entertained with audio books borrowed from the local library.

With my new RV lifestyle, reading continues to be a part of my day but the quantity of time spent reading is diminishing. There’s no more reading between destinations. Why read, when there are places to see and experience? When driving down the highway, Ed and I can stop at will and I might miss an opportunity if my eyes were focused on the page of a book. I am no longer confined to the elbows-in aisle seat where you keep your eyes down and read so that time in the confined space passes fast.

Another notable change in my reading habits comes from the pleasures of being outdoors most days rather than confined to the Hampton Inn rooms. Now, even when the sun goes down, I still want to be outside especially if Ed has built a colossal campfire. Alone by the campfire some nights if Ed retires early, I’ll put an audio book disc in my CD player then sit by the fire enjoying the flames and storytelling.

One experience has led me to be more careful in selecting my campfire stories. Knowing that I’d be visiting many park sites, a friend passed along a CD collection – three Anna Pigeon novels written by Nevada Barr. Anna, the main character, is a national park ranger who encounters malevolence and murder. What a great collection to listen to in the forested campground – until in Blood Lure, Anna encounters a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park. Suddenly, I became acutely aware of the sounds around me - the crack of a stick, the movement of other campers, and the pop of the fire. Was that growl a bear? Or, was that just the sound of the neighboring camper’s German shepherd? I didn’t wait for reason to calm me; I headed into the coach fast!

As such an avid reader, storing books and CD’s in the coach has its limits so here’s what I do. If I think that a friend would enjoy the book or CD, I mail it along for their enjoyment. Sometimes neighboring campers have accepted my completed reads with pleasure and appreciation. But, more often, I visit the local library and ask if the librarian would like to accept my offering as a donation. I am met with grateful smiles each time.

So I keep on reading or listening to books and I hope you will too.

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