My parents live about 3 blocks from the Redwood City Public Library. It used to be my sanctuary from the world--I would go there to find new books, pore over magazines about games and sports, and just get away from people for a while.
In high school, it was still my sanctuary, but in a different way--every Friday afternoon, my best friend and I would go over to the library and volunteer time for Project READ, the local literacy program, and it helped take the load off of a week of classes. (You have no idea how liberating it is to file books when you have no obligation to read them...)
Then, when I was going to Cal, I lived about 7 blocks down the street from Comic Relief, hailed by many as the best comic book store in the San Francisco Bay Area, if not the state. And so, every Wednesday after classes and/or work, I would head over to Comic Relief and check out the new shipments, perusing various titles but inevitably just buying a few, mostly by Warren Ellis and Brian Michael Bendis.
I did my Visual Culture thesis on first three issues of Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan, actually... wasn't one of my better pieces of work, but it got the job done. But anyway, the point is, the comic book store replaced the library for me in recent years--and now, I don't live anywhere near a good comic book store. It's at least a 20-minute drive to get to a halfway decent one, and I really miss having that around.
But now, I live near a library again, and I only set foot in it once in September, to pick up a voter registration form. I wonder when I stopped reading, and gave myself over to comic books? I wonder why I did it?
I mean, i know that one factor is time--much like the serialized novels of the 19th century (and today, but much more rarely), comic books are a nice little diversion for maybe an hour, then I can move on.
But time and attention spans aren't the only factor. Like many avid readers, I've forsaken food and sleep in favor of a good book before, and just this morning I was up until 4 or 5 AM reading some of the old books I have lying around the house.
Maybe it's just that my standards for reading a comic book are lower than my standards for reading a book--my brain goes into most comic books thinking "okay, now I get to see someone beating up someone else, or maybe some cool people saying snappy lines". And after years of studying the written word, I can't do that when it comes to books, I can't stop analyzing what I read, and often find it coming up short in my estimation.
I really need to break that habit, and start reading for fun again. It's been too long since I read a book for the sake of reading a book... especially since I don't review books yet, so it won't feel like work when I start reading. I've often finished a review of a DVD or a manga/comic, and thought "well, great. What do I do now to entertain myself? I have no urge to read more graphic novels/watch more TV for the rest of the night, and there's no football/baseball on."
Hmm... I think I'll go to the library right now. And try and rediscover the joy of reading for its own sake.