Monday, April 20, 2015

(Better) Realized: (Re)discovering my inner bookworm.



With April winding down, it seems the perfect time to discuss my New Year's resolution. Clearly it wasn't "stop procrastinating". ;)

As a child, I was a voracious reader. This was true of my teens, too, as I would often devour a Scarpetta novel in days and immediately go looking for the next. Reading, writing and vocabulary were  my strengths, and for that I was always grateful. It allowed me to seek solace in imaginary worlds, often revealing hidden passions and undiscovered interests. My son, I'm so happy to say, inherited my love of literature. (He'd read The Odyssey, Animal Farm, and everything Jules Verne had to offer by the 5th grade.)

And while I still loved books, I'd lost touch with my inner bookworm for a long while. I blame college, mostly, since reading for academia trumped reading for pleasure during those formidable four plus years. Simply put, I lost the ability to commit to and enjoy literature. During that time I still aspired to rediscover the passion I'd once had for reading, and as a result amassed a small library of books that caught my attention. Yet every time I sat down to read I couldn't focus, often rereading the same paragraph over and over. I quickly learned that reading for pleasure is a skill that must be practiced—a fact I had taken for granted in my youth.


I remember being so thrilled when I finished Gone Girl over winter break my junior year. I thought I'd turned a page, so to speak. Alas. My most difficult semesters lay ahead, and, well, you know how these things go. But then! Then! Wild came into my life and moved me and shook me and motivated me and reignited a fire I'd forgotten I had. That book tapped into a part of my psyche woefully ignored for much of my adult life, and I knew there was no turning back. So many times in our lives there is that one thing, one event, that changes everything. That book was it for me. (I'm still mulling over the logistics of hiking all or part of the PCT in the next couple years.)

In this transition period in my life where motherhood and wifehood and employeehood all feel oppressive at times, while attempting to shed my old skin without knowing what the new one looks and feels like; books have been my escape. A way to exercise my brain and explore a world outside (but often still relevant to) my existence.


You may be thinking: Oy! Enough with the waxing poetic! They're just books! (Though I suspect you're too nice to scold me so.) But it's more complicated than that. This is all part of the story of how I started building the foundation of my dream life. A life where I stress less and imagine more. Where there's less fear and more adventure. My journey to become a more evolved, balanced, (insert 500 other adjectives) version of myself. And as any person with life-changing aspirations does, I used the freshness of a new year to incite change.

The rules go something like this:

1. Read at least one book a month in 2015, for a minimum of twelve books. They can be fiction, non-fiction, self-help—anything goes.

2. At least 3 of the books must be classics, but preferably one per quarter.

3. Give each book a 50-page chance. If I can't get into it, I will donate it or give it away. (Life's too short, you know?)

I'm happy to say that, perhaps for the first time in my life, I've stuck to a resolution. I read one book in less than two days. Others I've put down for days at a time. One book, even though I loved it, took 6 weeks to finish. Once it took over a week to choose a new book after finishing the last. I don't push it, instead letting this be an organic process.


So far I've read:
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (my first classic of the year and I absolutely loved it)
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (the 36-hour book—I was riveted)
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I'm currently reading:
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (so far, soooo good)
Hey Natalie Jean by Natalie Holbrook (I'm just reading one chapter at a time here and there)

I have no less than a dozen books on my short list, and have been picking up quite a few lately. During a recent trip to Bend, Oregon, I may have paid the rent of a small independent bookstore (though it did include my next two classics, The Scarlet Letter and Persuasion). I'm inspired! However, this prompted the creation and subsequent adoption of Rule #4: I will not purchase any more books in 2015, instead choosing from the plethora of unread tomes that reside on the bookshelf. If I encounter reader's block, there's always the library. (We are, after all, trying to adopt a simpler lifestyle and will not always have an entire wall of built-ins to house all of the books I've purchased or been gifted over the years. Also, there are few books I'll read multiple times while the rest will just take up space. Book purchases add up, yo.)


I like that I'm the girl with a book in her hand at the airport, coffee shop, and track meet. I like that keeping with this goal has served to reduce my stress levels, provide an escape, improve my slumber, and expand my mind. It has also had the added benefit of reducing my time spent with electronic devices. Less television and phone, more literature. (I'm a strictly old school paper book kinda gal.)

And so this is the (rather lengthy) story of how I found my (reading) groove.

Recommendations?



2 comments:

  1. How I've missed your musings!! Life has been crazy of late and I've not had the time to relax with a good blog of late. Reading your stuff is like stuffing my myself into my big overstuffed chair with my fuzzy afghan and sophiejane cuddled up beside me....so comfortable and warm!
    Love love love the props that I always find beside your subject. Whether it be a cup of something, a cat from below, your toes or just something colorful that takes me awhile to identify.......it always adds that bit of lagniappe to your writing!!!

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  2. sheesh......my typing is atrocious. I really should re-read before I hit the publish button! oy!

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