Sunday, September 16, 2012

Upstairs Book, Downstairs Book

I need to be reading more. Heck, you need to be reading more. You know you do. Unless you're this person. In which case you're one of the reasons the rest of us need to be reading more. Or at least most of us, as I probably shouldn't speak for everyone. Come to think on it, I probably shouldn't speak for anyone else but me, because having taken a moment to think on it, I'm sure you're all reading more than I am lately. Which brings me back to:

I need to be reading more.

This is not a new revelation on my part. I've been thinking this for a while. I used to read a lot. As in, A LOT. Remember those college applications that asked you to list the books you'd read in the past year? There was never enough space. I have always suspected they didn't really want to know the full extent of anyone's reading, and were skimming the lists looking for things by the likes of Faulkner or Joyce. Of the two, I have read one, and it isn't the reportedly indecipherable Irishman. (Of whom it may be said that Martin Sheen does an excellent impression, but if you don't listen to public radio on the weekend you probably don't know that.) But the likes of those two were not the kinds of books that filled my list and bled well beyond the confines of those few meager lines the application doled out.

I don't wish to give the impression I'm not reading, or that I haven't read quite a few books this year. I have. But in terms of just numbers, the bulk of those are the YA or MG books I read to my daughter via Skype each night. While entertaining, and remarkably sophisticated, it's not the same thing as sitting down with a novel of my own.

In an effort to fix this, and because I also have at least a dozen or so books on my shelves that I have been meaning to read - often for years - I am adopting a two-part strategy. It is a strategy that will also save me the trouble of having to go either upstairs or downstairs when I am in the opposite location from where I last left my book. Laziness in the pursuit of literacy. It's a gift, really.

I have put one book downstairs in the kitchen. I do not get a paper, and having a book to read serves much the same purpose. In this case, I'm opting to make my downstairs books the poetry, history, philosophy, politics, religion, or other various non-fiction books I own that I have not yet read. Not all of which I expect to be great, but when that turns out to be the case I'll simply reshelve it. I have long since worked past the compulsion to finish every book I pick up, no matter how good it is. Life's too short to waste on a poorly written book.

Then, in part two of this brilliant yet lazy scheme, I have a book upstairs in the bedroom. This is a library book, something light and fluffy, which I have found makes for better bedtime reading. Not that the other kinds don't work as well, but I usually don't need the help sleeping that large historical or philosophical tomes provide. Plus, they usually require a little more mental energy to properly take in anyway. Unlike something by King or Gibson or even Roth. (Although sometimes Roth provides a different kind of bedtime reading, but that's another post entirely.)

So far, it's working out pretty well. I've made more headway in my reading in the past couple of weeks than I have in a while. Which, I must admit, feels pretty darn good. For reasons that even I'm not fully sure I understand, I had let one of life's best pleasures slip away from me, and it's nice to get it back.


Lisa M. Cronkhite said...

I totally know how you feel. There was a long period of time I stopped reading. Things in life happen, make you not want to read. But I picked it back up again a few years back and haven't stopped since. I like to challenge myself to read it in a certain time. Usually a library book in the set amount of time given. Most of the time it's less. And I don't let more than a week go by between books. Also you bring up a good point, I don't waste time on it either if I'm losing interest. I simply return it to the library and get another. I have some good YA book recommendations if you're looking for that kinda thing. I enjoyed your post! Thanks.

Thea said...

I also need to read more. Sometimes I have periods where I get on a pretty good reading kick. Other times, I have long dry spells.

I'll admit to being a big Kindle fan. One stays in my purse, and I can read a couple pages here and there while waiting at the pharmacy, during a lunch break, etc. The other usually stays on my kitchen table, and I can read a little bit while making my morning coffee or heating up dinner.

Clearly, I am not reading anything super-complex at those times. Oh well.