My life as a lawyer (both certified and in training) these past 6+ years has had an unfortunate side effect: it has trampled and extinguished all signs of life from my consumption of leisure reading. After 10 hours of reading printed and electronic documents a day, cracking another one open at bed hasn’t seemed all that appetizing.

 But this mentality was depriving me of something I used to enjoy, nay, love.  Reading.  As a kid, I thought the Pizza Hut Book It! Program was pretty much heaven on earth.  (Book reading = delicious personal-sized pepperoni pizza reward is a fond childhood memory).  Somewhere in college I developed a philosophy of only reading non-fiction—mostly historical accounts, biographies and sociological “why the world is the way it is” books.  And shunning all fiction, even going so far as to engage others in debates as to why fiction is, on the whole, a terrible genre and intellectually unsatisfying.  (I still find nonfiction more engaging, and playing the odds, more likely to be readable than 95% of the fiction crap out there.  But I’m giving fiction another go.)

During the law school hiatus, I kept lists, scribbled notes really, anytime a friend recommended a read, the NYT had an interesting review in its op-ed pages, or a Jon Stewart guest author tickled me the right way.  Over the years, this list never shrank, mostly because I never managed to do any actual reading (just a lot of planning to read) …

 Well, my time has come.  The 2011 New Year coincided with a $300 Christmas gift, and I was ready to tackle my list as resolution #3.  Through a corporate loophole which I intend to exploit fully during my tenure here, I can get “paper materials” shipped to our New York office and sent through for free, which is crucial since books (like everything else) are ridiculously expensive here.  Although I fully support what libraries do, I’m just not a library reader; I like to keep my books as evidence of my conquest (or to gift away later).

 So far, so good.  The first book I tackled was the Art of Travel (Alan de Botton), since we had just landed from one and were preparing for another Aussie adventure.  Me and this book = soul mates.  It would be impossible for me to do justice to the elegance and poignancy of this book, let’s just say that during his process of self-realization about the intricacies of travel, de Botton perfectly described the dimensions of and hunger for exploration and reminded me why it is I love travel so much.

 Next up, Elephants on Acid.  This collection of very short, witty summations of wacky “experiments” and other human and animal torture in the name of science was definitely a page turner.  And this week, I could barely keep my hands off of Nick Horby’s A Long Way Down, a novel about 4 unrelated characters whose lives collide when they each try to off themselves.  The character development is spectacular, and it’s an engaging and consuming read, so long as you don’t mind heavy use of the f-word and looking a bit insane as you laugh out loud on public transportation (reading a book about suicide no less….).  In the end, the satire gave way to an illumination of how easy is it to lose sight of what a gift life is, and how grateful we should be when we are reminded of that fact.

Ahhh reading, my old friend.  Welcome back.