This may sound strange, but some of my most vivid childhood memories involve reading at night. That time I tried to read under my covers with a flashlight (epic fail!), for example, or that time I realized that if I put the book down it would indeed still be there in the morning (a shocking revelation!). Or reading Oliver Twist for the first time, or comparing The Hobbit in German to the English translation at 1:00 in the morning (to learn German? I don’t know. I was a weird kid) – the night I realized I would someday die, and had to read a book to get back to sleep.
They’re memories infused with yellow bedside-table light, propped up comfortably by pillows or involving a sore neck from trying to read lying down. Always a sense of timelessness. The night is quiet, and there are no people around to interrupt the story.
As an adult, these late night readings are rare, for me at least. There are nights where I’m agitated and can’t sleep, or where I absolutely have to finish the next chapter. For the most part, though, I tell myself to be responsible, to be well rested for work tomorrow, to forget about what’s bothering me and go the fuck to sleep.
About a year ago, I was in the middle of a move and was pretty hyped up on stress and emotions. After hours of staring at the ceiling, I went into the living room and sat on the only chair there and read Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky (maybe I never grew out of being weird. Whatever, I’m a nerd, I accept it). I kept re-reading the same page over and over until my brain quieted down enough to grasp what was happening in the first paragraph. Reading helped me see past my own troubled moment, and to feel that timelessness of being alone in the middle of the night with a book.
I was thinking about this today. Perhaps I’ll take a page from my younger days and do a little more night reading.