Tuesday, October 15, 2019

I Need to Read Less

You are probably carving pumpkins or daydreaming about Thanksgiving menus, or maybe you're simply brushing off the dust your favorite pair of Fall boots. Not me. I'm looking to January 1st. I'm already thinking about New Years and New Years Resolutions. This year, one of my goals is going to be to read less.

You read that right. I need to read less.

For the past four years, one of my New Year's resolutions is to read 100 books a year. That sort of reading takes commitment and discipline. I've got both of those of those in spades. Plus, I've discovered the Overdrive app and have the ability to check out audiobooks from my library and listen to them on my phone.

I don't work outside the home, so most household chores fall to me. I pack lunches while my family sleeps, listening to Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodsen (the interview by her ten year old son after the book is charming!). I fold clothes and sweep while listening to Grant by Ron Chernow. My yellow lab is well-walked; she sniffs the leaves and sidewalks in Edmonds while I listen and chuckle to Yes Please by Amy Poehler.  My three children are involved in activities that require longer drives, so sometimes while they read books in the backseat, I sneak one earbud in and listen to Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. At night I pull out an actual physical book; right now I am reading Annie Dillard's The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New before sleeping.

I've always been a big reader, but after having three children I realized that books were an escape for me, and it's a rather cheap, easy escape. When my marriage hit turbulence and Depression pulled a gray blanket of sad over me, I dove into books.

When my own story was too difficult to face, escaping into other people's stories was easier. I used other authors' words to replace or maybe just push out the thoughts in my head. To block out memories of easier days. To shoo away the pesky "what if's" that buzzed in my brain like hungry mosquitoes. I drowned out the scary silence and everything else with books. I read at night to replace any last thoughts with someone else's story because my own was close and complicated and exhausting.

Three years and over 400 books later, I'm glancing up from my pages and taking my earbuds out to see myself and my habit. My reading has become a bit obsessive. Once it was helpful; now it is not. I need to decrease other people's sentences in my head and replace them with my own musings, thoughts, and reflections. I need to create some space to wonder, ruminate, and think.

I have to think about this three months in advance, because who says you have to change overnight? I like to plan ahead. I don't want my own thoughts to scare the shit out of me...I don't want this new resolution to be anything like a polar plunge into the quiet of my mind. Plus, with 76 books read this year and 24 more to go, I can't break the habit before reaching that goal I set for myself ten months ago!

1 comment:

Kathi Hagan said...

Your decision is wise, Katie.
Your comparisons are apt.
Your task is daunting, but you are brave.

If David Brooks has so far somehow led you to this, I like him even more.

Oh...and your writing remains excellent.”