I have a love hate relationship with books. I used to be the most enthusiastic reader in my school days. I would wake up early in the morning just to squeeze in half an hour of reading before school. I would eagerly participate in the Premier’s Summer Reading Challenge, proudly logging hours and hours of reading. I would have competitions with my friends at school to see who could finish the new Harry Potter book first. I can even remember my year 3 teacher telling me off once because I was finishing the classroom books too quickly! And, I remember eagerly convincing my Mum and Dad to take me to buy the final A Series of Unfortunate Events book on the day it was released.
I’ve well and truly lost my passion for reading over the years, and I kind of feel guilty for it. My Mum and my sister laugh at me everytime they see me pick up a new book, knowing that I’ll set it down after a day and let it gather dust. Sure, I still read about the things that interest me. I collect a lot of reference books on technology, marketing, diabetes and diet. I read a lot of newsletters, magazines, news articles and diabetes blogs. But I guess I’ve lost that passion for reading something from start to finish. I’ve lost that motivation for sticking with something through. And I guess I just don’t see the point of reading books anymore.
I was book hunting on Saturday morning at the massive Save the Children Book Sale at UWA. My arms were filled with bargain books about – take a deep breath – diabetes. As I was standing there, leaning over those book tables crowded with people, a woman asked me where I had found the diabetes books I was holding. I pointed her over to the correct table, and she went on her way.
Normally, I would have ended it there. But that day, I felt hesitant. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to follow her. I wasn’t even sure if she wanted to talk to me. But then again, she already had spoken to me. I wanted to help her. I wanted to make sure that she didn’t pick up the books that I had found too medical or too technical to read. And so, I did the craziest thing and decided to chase after this rare sighting of diabetes in the wild.
As we stood there, talking books, we eventually went on to talk about our connections to diabetes. Turns out we both attended the same diabetes clinic, we both knew the same endocrinologist and we had both been diagnosed in the last couple of years. Pretty cool! I was a type 1, while she was a LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults), or slow onset type 1 diabetic. I was a typical young adult, while she was an older and less common example of type 1 diabetes. She also volunteered at the new Telethon Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre here in Perth, which was quite fascinating to hear about.
After having that conversation, I finally realised that what I am reading at the moment is a big deal. What I am reading does count for something, even if it’s not done from the first to the last page of a book. It doesn’t matter if I’m only reading a chapter out of a book, an article from a magazine or a post off of a blog. What counts is that I have an interest, even if it’s not an interest by choice. An interest that brought two complete strangers together on Saturday. An interest that offered me 5 minutes of great, and hopefully useful conversation. A conversation that helped me to feel a little more grounded and a little further away from the diabetes wild that I live in.
And that’s reason enough for me to keep reading.