i am going to read more often

If there is one thing that always concerns me—be it the moment I awaken, several hours prior to that when I ought to be asleep, or most of the time in general—it’s my preoccupation with being “productive.” As if most of what I do produces nothing. Such as clean clothes, an orderly home, educated children, supper. That’s NOT the point. I mean writing something, planning something, marketing my book, researching new homeschooling and parenting philosophies. (Yes, I DO philosophize.) I tell you these things NOT in an effort to make you think I’m crazy. Exactly.

When I was a kid I read constantly. The highlight of my life was the biweekly visit of the Bookmobile. When the Scholastic order came in every month, I was beside myself. My favorite store was Walden Books.

But now that I'm a grown-up, I am "too busy" to read the way I used to.

Then I thought about it. There is the work we must do and then there is the grinding drive to to be "productive" every wakeful hour. This weekend in a blindingly beautiful moment of grace that I never saw coming—as blindingly beautiful moments of grace happen upon you—I realized that I just wanted to read a book for the sake of pure pleasure and nothing else. And guess what? I did! It was AFTER I cleaned out the basement, but still.

The top of my bureau is lined with to-be-read books, so I have plenty from which to choose. And I mean it—I am going to read more. I am going to read these books! I mean, what’s the point of life? To have a clean house? To maintain high levels of production? To know where your kids are all the time? No! It’s for reading! Being alive is for the sake of reading. I am so glad I remembered this in time.

By the way, isn’t my bureau so tidy? It always looks like this. No it doesn’t. This is what it really looks like:

And that is my all-natural deodorant. It almost works. Comes so, so close. Who needs to smell perfect? Exactly.

So here’s what I’ve read/been reading lately.

When I had my blindingly beautiful moment of grace, Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan is the one I grabbed off the to-be-read bureau top (doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?). At halfway through, it’s a good, smooth read so far. The plot is not a roller-coaster ride but that never bothers me as long as the characters are well-drawn and the writer makes me care about them. That’s definitely the case here.

Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter is a gorgeous novel and talk about well-drawn characters. This is a very quiet book, but lovely and sweet, the setting as much a character as the people who call it home. Berry is also a poet and his perfectly-chosen prose is informed by his deft poetry skill. I love his work.

The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand is something I actually read last summer when I was in the depths of hell that is better-known as selling your house. It’s a nice little bite of mind-candy. I am the first to admit I am an utter book snob even though I know it’s wrong. Yes, I wear Birkenstocks with socks. No, I never “style” my hair. Yes, I am a book snob. Now it’s all out there. Anyhow, The Blue Bistro is one of those books you can simply fall into and flow effortlessly through and forget about everything while you're reading it. And I guess if someone says that about my book, I will be pretty happy.

Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary is a book I first read when I was a kid and I have read it nearly every year since. I still have the old, worn $2.99 Dell paperback I bought when I was in 5th grade and I also have a digital copy. There is not one mis-chosen word in this book and the characters and setting are simultaneously of a by-gone era and timeless.

I just started The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. So far it is very compelling and I love the characters. I mean, my iPhone tells me that I am only 2% done and have 32 more hours of reading ahead of me, but, like I said, so far I am loving it. The prose is spot-on and the characters feel very real even at only 2%.

I really enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. It had a twist to it that I did not see coming. I mean DID NOT. I loved all the characters. Even though it was a bit out-there, I mean for me—my choices of literature are strictly realist—but it was so beautifully written that I stuck with it and really dug the story.

Okay, there's a nice little sampler for you. I am going to read more often. I think everyone should. And if you do, please share what you’ve been reading lately—I for one am always willing to go out and get a new book. (Just don’t tell Steve (not his real name) I said that.)


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