books

Posted: January 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

Yesterday afternoon when I got off at 4, I left the building with a little persistent giggle, practically dancing.  My belly was bubbly with the excitement it gets when I’m headed off for vacation.  I could not WAIT to get home.

The reason?  A BOOK.

Not a self-improvement book.

Not a spiritual growth book.

Not an expanding knowledge book.

Nope.

This was:  a NOVEL.  A hardback fiction book.  A book IN MY HANDS, not on a screen.

I stopped to brag to a coworker on the way out the door.  His eyes lit up as he remembered his days of voracious reading, way back before he had kids.

It has been a long time since I’ve read an actual fiction book, as in reading with my eyeballs.  Oh, I haven’t been completely away from fiction – I do love a good book-on-CD and have found that it’s possible to really enjoy one even in with the little short commutes that I do, with 5 minutes here and 15 there.

It’s not that I don’t read.  I read like I eat, with gusto and always wanting more, which makes me one of the greediest readers I know.  Probably the reason I don’t find Facebook to be as horrible as so many do is that for me, it’s a source of link after link to interesting articles, many of them long, thoughtful, and in-depth.  I read every day.  I read stuff I know, and stuff that is new to me.  Stuff I agree with, and stuff I really don’t.  Stuff from my world, and stuff that is odd, foreign, or alien to me.  Stuff at both far ends of the liberal-to-conservative spectrum.  I read creative stuff and news stuff and opinion stuff and political stuff.  Humor and science and  art and sexuality and parenting and aging and history.  I read how-to and health and DIY stuff.  It’s not that I don’t read.

But the business of sitting down with a book in hand, with no internet available for distraction, not multi-tasking…that business has gone basically extinct in my life.  This is why I was so excited when READING came up as one of my 2016 themes/goals.

I miss reading books.  I was an obsessive reader as a child, and since that was pre-internet, it was all books.  I preferred to have 3 – 5 books at a time checked out from the library.  I hated recess for the social-and-sports side of it, which made it almost as odious as gym class for me, but if I could take a book with me and hide with it…AWESOME.  At every age, I had certain books I read over and over, but meanwhile I was always discovering new stuff along the way.

As an adult I remember reading almost all the way through the night on many occasions.  I’ve lost countless weekends to burying myself in a book, reading every waking moment.  Reading while I stood at the counter and cooked my meal, reading while I ate, leaving the dirty dishes to go lie on the couch and read.  Reading for so long that my body got uncomfortable from all the rest, which made me sit and lie in odd positions for relief.  Ignoring the phone as it rang, refusing to let “real life” intrude, just reading and reading and reading.

I’ve spent more than one vacation mostly reading.  I’ve packed 15 books for a 2-week vacation, and finished them all.  When I still had kids at home, there was always a basket and/or a bench loaded with books and magazines in the bathroom – I’ve read many entire books and certainly a lot of magazine articles from that seat in there.  I used to carry a purse large enough to hold one or more novels, so that I could always have a book with me, anywhere that life might land me with a few minutes of nothing to do.  I’ve stood in lines reading books, the way today I stand in line reading my iPhone screen.

I like books.

It’s just that something’s gotta give when a girl gets busy, you know?  I got busier with work.  I got busier with church-related stuff.  I got busier with spiritual growth.  I got busier with ministry.  I got busier with cooking better, with moving my body.  I got busier keeping my house more or less in order instead of living in chaos.  And now for the past couple of years, I’ve been busy being a wife – a totally “here” wife, an attentive wife, not a wife living her own separate life.

Something had to give, and fiction books were on the “something” list.  The books I’ve read in the past couple of years have mostly been spiritual growth stuff, and they’ve been squeezed into small segments of time, like the prayer/intercession book I’m reading on my lunch breaks right now, In the Gap, which my employer purchased for the leadership team “library” at the Global Leadership Summit the year before last.

As I mentioned a few blogs ago, fiction does a different thing with the brain.  It develops empathy and expands the mind, among other things.  And for me, fiction is a place of REST.  Now…I can go too far (and have) with fiction – it can slide into an unhealthy level of escapism from my real life.  But within good parameters, fiction is restorative and rejuvenating for me.

For me, I’m not all that crazy about intentional “Christian” fiction, which seems, like most “Christian” movies and a fairly sizable chunk of “Christian” music to often – not always, but often – be cheesy, overdone, simplistic, and generally annoying (in this I think I match up more closely to people younger than me than to people my age or older, or am I wrong?)   I find that just the “secular” stuff, created without agenda, tends to be filled with peeks at God that actually speak to my heart, change my perspective, and sometimes just flat undo me.

So I’m excited to be back to fiction.  Last night I squeezed in about 50 pages of the novel (if you’re wondering, it’s The Girl on the Train) and I was glad to find that even after so long a time away from this kind of reading, I was in the world of the narrator by page 2.  Like riding a bicycle.

I’m building a page of recommended reading from which I will choose in the coming months, having asked on Facebook and gotten a long list from friends.  I’d sure welcome your suggestions.  Aiming at 25 books for this year, which seems woefully low for old Karen who’d read 3 books over a weekend, but I think it’s a realistic goal for this point in the journey.  Tell me what’s good, people!

 

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] understand them.  I’m not surprised to love writing; you maybe already read the other day how much I love to read and that’s been true for as far back as my memory goes.  From early on, I was watching my […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s