“The first thing that reading teaches us is how to be alone.” – Jonathan Franzen
As far back as I can remember, one of my favourite ways to spend time was reading. I could happily sit for hours at a time, on my own, immersed in a new adventure, a different world. As an adult, reading became a relaxing pastime, a break from the demands and worries of the day, a calming exercise for a busy mind. A couple of months ago when the world shifted, and the foundation of the things in my life I believed to be solid altered, I was left with a great deal of spare time. Many hours of the day to be filled. In theory, this would seem pretty ideal to a fairly introverted bookworm, but that has not been the case. Everyday has been different and everyday has brought a new mix of emotions that act as a reminder of the uncertainty and fragility of this time we live in. So there have been days when reading has been relaxing, when it has been entertaining and fun, providing a much needed blurring of reality. And there have been days where it has felt impossible to focus.
No reading. A couple of months ago reading was the last thing on my mind and I could not pick up a book even if I wanted to. But as I settled into a new daily routine I did really want to. I wanted to spend time reading books I had been meaning to read for years but my ability to focus on a story was just not there. I still have so many days like this and it just is what it is. One thing I have learned is to go with the flow of the day, and if that means there are other activities that fit the mood better, I’m just going to go with it.
Reading marathon. Sometimes all it takes is one book. I read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo recently, fell in love with the characters and could not put it down. Right away I read the second book in the duology, Crooked Kingdom and it felt wonderful to be so excited about a story. This led to quite the fantasy novel kick and I couldn’t read fast enough in my eagerness to get to all the books I wanted to read. It was a magical time. 🙂
A book smorgasbord. The most frustrating of all has been having the desire to read but not being able to see a story through to the end. I would start a book, enjoy it well enough but start a different book thinking that I might like it a little more. This is why for the last three weeks I have had four books on the go and as much as I have tried I have not been able to finish any of them. Just picking away at them like a baby bird. Two of them I decided to set aside and try again in the future: The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Two that I am intent on finishing for now are And I Darken by Kiersten White and The Afterlife of Holly Chase, which I enjoyed a lot initially.
Reading to tick boxes. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from ticking a box and reading from my unread books shelf gave me just that. Anytime I was able to finish a book from that shelf it felt kind of special because it is a shelf that should get more attention than it does. I admit it, I am easily distracted by new books. And recently I have found joy in mystery novels so I have set out to read all the Hercule Poirot books from Agatha Christie. For me, setting little challenges like this is fun and motivating, and gives an odd sense of order during a time that feels so unsettled.
Right now I am finding great comfort in authors whose books I love, and want to read more of their work: Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, Neil Gaiman, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Carlos Ruiz-Zafon to name a few. Our reading moods are fairly unpredictable but there are so many books, so many stories out there for us to experience. And they will wait, and they will be there for you, when you are ready to read them. ❤