A bit earlier in the year, I had lots of fun choosing books for a few challenges, for the book club, and to read along with some friends in real life and online. But now in March, I find myself at a halt, trying to decide how to proceed with my readings. So far, this is a great year. I’ve already read 25 titles, (and most have been truly great books.) However, -and there has to be a however in a post titled reconsidering, right?, I am jumping into some books with a sense of forceful duty but without conviction. I’m suffocated, and it’s my own fault, -I’m the one imposing some books on myself, or doubting my urgency to quit.
I love my friends at the book club, but there again, I always force myself to try to read every month’s selection, and I end up frustrated because my reading life becomes cluttered, and those other books I love I’m not savoring, or not even getting to. I’m simply going to read only those I’m interested in. I’m also going to give myself permission to go to book club night, even if I haven’t read the book, or even permission to skip book club too.
I’ve committed to three books I do want to read, (two I have read, the third I do hope it’s a good one.) You can read about it here. It was also hard for me to realize I did not want to lead a book club on Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled. But Karen will lead a book club for The Remains of the Day, and I will lead two, one for The Buried Giant, the other for East of Eden.
Reading is complex. We all read with different goals and different principles in mind. I do like to stretch my reading comfort zone, -I don’t only or always read books that make me ‘feel good’. (That’s impossible, I’d say, when one reads, like I do, lots of classics). But I acknowledge some difficult to express guidelines that I must respect if I don’t want to lose who I am as a person and as a person who reads. I could try to explain what I mean by this internal guidelines, it’s probably a mix of conscience and taste, and what fills a need at the time, (what intrigues me, what’s most beneficial to my whole self), or serendipitous reads that find their way without derailing me completely.
I have tried, but I am finally realizing that I don’t do great when I add a lot of contemporary titles to my reading pile. For those, I need to be picky. I also need to nurture my readings in Spanish. More and more I’m noticing how much I need to have a good mix of English and Spanish titles, (even if that means leaving out or waiting on certain titles.) With anything mid 1900 up to now, I also need to be selective. The heaviness of the topics, and the styles of the writers, can make me weary. I need to pair any of these hard and sad books with something else, (not necessarily light or fun, but different in tone, place, topic, etc.)
I need to learn to say no to some possibilities, to not feel guilty if I quit a book, -no matter how great that book is to many others, and to not feel guilty about re-reading, or about choosing long books, (re-reads or new to me) that take up most of my reading time, even if that means I’m not going to discover those many authors I have not read yet. I need to follow my path, and give those books nobody reads but me undivided attention, instead of neglecting them in favor of moving along my TBR list that’s full with those other books I’m not convicted about.
Praying over my reading life is something I need to get back to. That always helps me. That and the support of great readers and friends who also go through similar situations. I want to be sure about all my choices, and leave all other pressure and reasons at the door.
How is your reading going this year? (I hope it’s nothing less than fabulous.)