The Old Coot is a ‘light’ reader

Old coots. Old coots that are readers, of books, may have to alter their reading habits as they age. I have anyhow. I’m a moderate reader: 25 to 50 books a year. It’s a habit my mother started me on by reading Uncle Wiggily stories to me every night at bedtime. Then came “Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby.” Then, on my own, it was comic books (Little Lulu, Superman, Archie and the like). 

They were stacked up in the corner of my bedroom and grew in height at about the same rate as I did. I started reading books, from the school library, when I was in second grade, but continued to grow the comic book pile too, and to this day, read the “funnies” in the paper every day. 

Reading fills in the gaps, eliminates boring moments in the day and takes you all over the world, back and forward in time and gives you the opportunity to “walk in someone else’s shoes” to experience life every way imaginable.  

I have a group of favorite authors. When they publish a new book, I buy it or get surprised with it as a gift. I give other authors a test run; I borrow their book from the library, as a cheapskate old coot should. 

My author list has really grown over the years, but my reading selection has become limited of late. I’m forced to select a book by its weight, the lighter the better; it must be light enough for me to read while lying on my back and holding it over my head.  

It’s just another adjustment I’ve had to make as I move deeper and deeper into old coothood. No longer can I read some of my favorite authors, Stephen King and James Michener to name two. Their books run 800 pages or more and are too heavy for my reading posture. King is writing smaller books of late and Michener died in 1997, but there prolific writing style is still an issue since I re-read many books, generally on a five-year cycle. I’ve had to take their books out of the rotation. I don’t have enough arm strength to read more than a page or two at a time. 

I’ve been reading books of 400 pages or less for the last year or so, but it’s evident I’ll soon have to lower my limit, maybe to 300 pages. Unfortunately, most books on the bestseller list have more pages than that. I’m headed into a reading dead end. 

Oh sure, a Kindle would solve my problem, and I have one, as well as a Kindle App on my phone. I read on those electronic marvels now and then, but they just don’t cut it as a mainstream reading mechanism for me. Talking books don’t work either; they take me back to when my mother read me to sleep. I went out so fast it took a week for her to get through a single short chapter. I fade out even faster today.

I’m sure I face more surprises, more adjustments, as I journey down the old age jungle path, but I didn’t expect this one. I don’t know why I was surprised; I’m well acquainted with the aging process. My doctor has clarified the issue on many occasions over the past 25 years. Whenever I quiz him about my latest quirk, his response is always the same, “You have to expect that at your age.” 

If I could just find a copy of that Uncle Wiggily book, I’d be okay. That was a light one.

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