I had book club tonight. The book was “Pope Joan” by Donna Woolfolk Cross. I was only about 100 pages in, of a 400+ page book. I went anyway.
I miss reading. I used to read a lot. A.LOT. From grade school through college, I’m pretty sure my parents and teachers thought they were going to have to surgically remove books from my hands. Seriously, I distinctly remember carrying my books from class to class in middle school: class folder, spiral bound notebook, textbook, book for pleasure, little planner (yeah, I was addicted to my planner at a tender age, but that’s another post). I’d hustle to class and get a few pages in before the teacher would start. For every single class. All day. I read several books a week. In grade school we had the reading olympics. I got a gold medal every year. I would check out books from the library twenty and thirty at a time. I remember a Wednesday in college. I had an early class, and then nothing the rest of the day. I read an entire book that day, did nothing else. No studying, no flute practicing, just read all day long. It obviously made an impression on me, I remember what day of the week it was.
Somewhere along the line, I stopped reading. I think it was around 1993, when I started to get really serious about my flute playing. I started practicing a whole lot and the reading fell by the wayside. It had to happen, I was in music school, something had to give. So it was the reading for pleasure. You’d think it would have returned, but then there was teaching, and grad school, and more teaching…and then kids.
I actually read a lot more while breastfeeding. Hey, I had to sit down several times a day and sit still. Might as well read while I’m at it. I got really good at nursing on one side and holding a book with the other. So when my mom’s group had a book club, I went. My first book club. I loved it. Still do, just hardly ever read the book anymore.
I have a couple of theories why I don’t read, besides the kid thing.
1) Too many books, too little time. I think I have 100+ books I want to read on my PDA. Some have been there for over 4 years. A lot of non-fiction, a bunch of fiction, very little fluff. It’s intimidating. I have a tendency to go to the library, get a half dozen of them, and have them taunt me for three weeks…or six, if I renew them for more torture. I have reading material on at least three separate horizontal surfaces in my house. More, if you count the bookcase in the living room.
2) The whole kid thing. I read “Magic School Bus” and “Magic Tree House” and “Curious George” and Dr. Seuss. They’re short, they’re to the point, they’re mindless…to me.
3) I think I have adult-onset ADD. Or, make that kid-induced ADD. I swear, I have no attention span anymore. I used to be able to practice my flute for 2-3 hours at a time, no sweat. I can barely make 20 minutes before my brain is trying to leap from my ears. Reading? Gimme a break! It’s a good book, but 30 seconds into Pope Joan and my brain is begging for something else. Why is this, you ask? It’s because I can barely contain a 3 minute train of thought before it’s derailed by screaming from the other room, an insistent demand for something rightnow, or a nagging thought that it’s wayyyy too quiet in the other room, or something. I’ve become a magazine person, God help me. Short, sweet, to the point. I love Time magazine, I’ve been a subscriber since high school, but dang, I can barely hold it together for the little side blurbs. Scrapbook magazines are about the right attention span for me.
4) Which brings me to my hobby/obsession/illness. I love to scrapbook. I love that I am saving memories for future family. I love being creative in a way that will last past the next breath. But it takes up a lot of time. I like that I don’t have to “think” or really concentrate. But it’s cutting into my reading time. Thursday nights are my scrapbook nights. I put the boys to bed and go play. I really should do that with books.
And what concerns me about all this? That it doesn’t really bother me. I feel like I’m juggling so much and worrying about so much and planning so much and thinking so much that when the time finally appears for me to read, I don’t want to do any thinking. I just want to sit. Just.Sit. And Do.Nothing. I don’t want to read about Pope Joan, I don’t want to think about sensory integration disorder anymore, I don’t want to flip through Consumer Reports to get ideas for affordable autos in case Tom’s car really is dead…I just want my mind to settle. So maybe it’s time to just get the books out of the house for awhile and not feel the guilt. I miss reading, but the books will still be there when I’m ready. The research is still there, mainly online when I need it. If the books don’t get read, their feelings won’t be hurt.
I miss that part of me, getting lost in a book, but I guess right now it’s going to have to wait. I don’t know if I’ll finish Pope Joan. It’s been on my PDA list forever, and I own it, so there’s no hurry to finish it. Who knows. But the library books are going back, and the magazines are going to the recycle bin, and we’ll see what happens. I’ll call it a “reading flush”, a literary purge, and feel better on the other side.