Some Thoughts on Reading

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I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. I would read anything I could get my hands on, from The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High to Dean Koontz and Edgar Allen Poe. I loved the scholastic book catalog and trips to Waldenbooks at the mall where I would sit on the floor, surrounded by books until I was forced to leave. As a teen I discovered literature and poetry and soon I had a carload of books to pack up with every move in college and beyond. I always had a book with me, and would read any chance I got.

Then something shifted. My life as a mother, particularly in the baby days, didn’t leave me with much mental space for reading. If I was reading a book, it would take me a long time to get through it, and I would often finish it feeling meh. I had lost the ability or desire to lose myself in the story, fictional or not. This was the first time I realized that reading books is a skill, and spending time doing it is a choice.

So when my daughter was a toddler and life started to feel somewhat predictable again, I decided to return to books. I would make the time and try to rediscover my love of reading.

Setting a reading goal for myself felt like a fun way to stay motivated, so when January rolled around I resolved to read 12 books that year. This was before I was on Goodreads or keeping track in any sort of way, so I can’t recall what I read or how many books I read that year. But what I do know is this: my love of reading was rekindled and my ability to dive deep into a story was restored with each book.

Why I Read

For me, reading is a way to connect to myself and to humanity at large. I read to reaffirm what I already know, to discover new ways of understanding the world, to challenge my beliefs and privilege, to have adventures beyond the scope of my reality, to connect with the stories of other humans, to be entertained, to escape, and sometimes just to have fun.

When I read, I’m giving myself a gift, a little something that exists just for my own satisfaction. It’s not for or about anyone else. Reading connects me to my truest self, all the messy, complicated, romantic, intellectual, cynical, silly parts of me that maybe get set aside in my day to day life. To me, this is time well spent.

Making the Time

Last year I read an astonishing (to me) number of books. It was quadruple the amount of books I set out to read in my first reading challenge, and I had to ask: how did this happen?

Well, I decided to make the time.

First I looked at how I was spending my “leisure time” (quotes because as a working mom I didn’t feel like I had much time to spare). I quickly discovered there were pockets of time lost to social media, tv, and similar.

I almost always read before bed. This meant adjusting my bedtime so that I’m hitting the pillows before I’m actually ready to fall asleep. I also always read in the bathtub; it’s my favorite place to start a new book!

Another way I make time to read is by always having a book downloaded on my phone via the Kindle or Libby apps. Libby connects to your library card, and you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks alike. I’ve also started making sure I have an audio book downloaded – usually non-fiction – to listen to in the car or on walks. Pro tip: if I’m reading a longer print book, sometimes I will also borrow the ebook from the library. That way instead of losing 15 minutes to social media when I’m in a waiting room or early to school pick up, I can read my book.

Another shift: I gave myself permission to stop reading a book I didn’t love. My reading time is precious! I’m not going to squander it trying to get through a book that I’m not connecting with. Sometimes I put the book aside for another time; there are seasons and moments for books, and when the timing is off, it just doesn’t work.

some of my January/February books

My Reading Life Now

This year my goal is to read 50 books. I’m off to a strong start thanks to my February sabbatical. No job and a social media break have given me loads of time to read, and I’ve loved every moment of it. You can check out the books I’ve read so far this year on my Goodreads page.

A year or two ago, my friend Hannah shared that she was reading books via the Book of the Month Club. I was in another reading slump by then, now with two kids and a business in my life. I missed books, so this seemed like a great way to get excited about reading again. Plus we could talk about the books and trade!

BOTM highlights 5 books by contemporary authors each month, with a mix of genres and styles to choose from. It’s been a lot of fun discovering some new-to-me authors and genres. Hannah and I always text each other around the beginning of each month to compare thoughts on that month’s selections and share what we’re thinking of getting. We also chat and meet up regularly to swap books back and forth.

The March books for Book of the Month were just announced today. I’ve been excited for Daisy Jones & The Six and was thrilled to see it was included in the selections. If you’re interested, you can check out the selections here . 

I’m curious: do you identify as a reader? Why do you read? What’s your favorite book you’ve read in the past year?

One thought on “Some Thoughts on Reading

  1. First off, I love reading your blog! You have done so much that you should definitely be proud of! I LOVE reading books, My son is named Steinbeck after the author, John Steinbeck. I love the feeling of being able to escape the stress of a long day and having the opportunity to explore views and worlds that I could never have dreamed of myself. I love getting so involved in a book that I feel like I actually know the characters and then being sad when the story ends. I always take a few days of “mourning”, if you will, of stories I never want to end before I am able to start a new book and go on an entirely new adventure!

    A book that I have read that has stayed with me is “Unbroken” by Lauren Hillenbrand. Never has a book affected my hunger, thirst and thought process more than this story.

    I look forward to reading more blogs!

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