Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Stress Reading

2018 has been one of the most stressful years on record for our family.  We've lost people we love, we've faced new parenting challenges, job stress, and one of our children had surgery.  It was rough.  And maybe it's that time of year, maybe I feel the need to be ready for whatever might come next, I'm sitting here taking stock.  

no, really.

What worked...and what didn't?
How did we handle these circumstances with grace and what made us come apart at the seams?

More than any other year I've found my coping mechanism in 2018 to be books.  Reading for me, audiobooks when I'm folding laundry, talking about books with my husband, children, friends.  When life got hard, I cracked open a book and hid there for a while.  

actual footage of me

It may sound a little unhealthy (can you say "avoidance"??) but it wasn't.  In going to books I learned so many things this year.  

I learned how to love difficult people through difficult things (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Ginny Moon).  
I learned the value of occasional escapism (Gamache Books).  
I learned to laugh (Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves).  
I learned to relate to my teens (I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter) and my younger kids (Henry and Beezus).  
I learned to pray (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer).  
I learned to grieve (Traveling with Ghosts).  
I learned to see beauty in small things (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Ministry of Ordinary Places).  I learned that travel is a very good thing (Less), and so is coming home (Belong to Me).
I learned to love (Persuasion).  
I learned to live (Nobody's Fool).

Through fiction and non-fiction, my stress reading habit saw me through this year.  

I'm ready for 2019 and I'm hoping for a less eventful year.  But, now I know that I will manage just fine, with good friends, a loving family, and books.  Lot and lots of books.  

Friday, November 9, 2018

Reading Recap: October Edition

Fall is here, everybody!  This is not a drill!  My favorite reading is lazy Saturday afternoon reading with a big mug of tea/spiced cider/hot cocoa, and a blanket of course.  #basic #idontcare

I have been enjoying getting a little cozy this month. 

Traveling with Ghosts
My book club book of the month.  I didn't read much about this memoir before I began and that was a big mistake.  I was expecting a memoir akin to Lab Girl (which I loved).  This was not that.

The author is a scientist--a marine biologist--but science does not play a role in her story.  She recounts the sudden death of her fiance after a fatal jellyfish sting.  Then she goes on a grim pilgrimage of grief.

I didn't understand that this was about the grieving process and I couldn't relate to her desire to be far away from everyone and everything she knew while working through her loss.  I also felt weird about not liking a book about someone's very personal journey of sadness.

I'm sure this book has an audience, but I don't think it's me.  Most of the time I was cringing and wondering what would drive someone to visit a former concentration camp, Isreal during one of the bloodiest years, and Eastern European countries without even basic travel plans.

To Kill a Mockingbird
My daughter read this for 9th grade English this year.  I decided to reread it and loved every single minute.  I found myself identifying with Atticus and catching some nuances I missed in high school.  There are so many parenting pro-tips if you read between the lines (read in front of your children, let kids play, read in front of your children some more).  

I've been looking around the internet and noticed many people commenting that this book is problematic.  It's definitely not perfect, but when I think about the books that were being published at the same time, I can see that Lee was doing something different.  She highlights the racism of the town and then calls it wrong.  

I could talk forever about this book (Scout's voice, Jem, the trial which made me cry like a baby)...but I won't.  If you haven't read it, read it.  If you've read it, reread it.  

A Trick of the Light
Another in a line of the Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series.  They keep getting better and better.  The mysteries are interesting and I always learn something new related to the case the Chief Inspector is solving, but I'm really more invested in the recurring characters.  I am constantly checking to see if these books are being made into movies because I just can't get enough of Three Pines.  #nerd

Louise Penny to me

Only three for October.  November might be even less.  These months are full.  Traveling with Ghosts made me realize that I don't want my end of year reading to be books I "have to" read but can't stand.  Because life is so busy, I need books that I like.  

Also, I can't believe I'm not posting this until the ninth of November.  I had it all ready to go and then I got sidelined by a severe sinus infection.  Now that I'm medicated and not in constant, blinding pain, I feel up to writing again.  🙌🙌🙌
direct quote from me yesterday

Monday, November 5, 2018

PDR: Public Display of Reading

I feel like this might be a spicy take: I really don't like reading in public. 

I do it.  But I don't like it. 

There's something very vulnerable about letting yourself get lost in a story while other people could very well be staring at you.  

Yesterday I was at the ophthalmologist's office with two kids waiting for 40 minutes, you bet I pulled out a book.  Everyone (including my 7-year-old) was watching Love It or List It reruns on the oversized TVs mounted on the walls.  I still felt self-conscious.   

I read at LOTS of doctors' offices

Once a week I spend a few hours at Barnes and Noble.  I sit in the cafe with broccoli cheddar quiche and a coffee.  After catching up on the 1,000,000 emails I get each week from the kids' schools, I crack open a book and read for a bit.  Are my lips moving?  How is everyone else able to drink coffee and read without spilling all over themselves?

all. the. time.

And of course, at baseball practice and soccer games, I have been known to fill any downtime with a few minutes of reading. 
me at the ball field
But, I can't really get comfortable.  I prefer laying in my bed or curling up on the sofa to sitting on bleachers with a book. 

I find myself reading and eavesdropping which means I'll just have to reread that sentence/paragraph/page again.  I have a bad habit of hearing every conversation happening around me whether I'm trying to focus on a book or I'm talking with my family over a dinner.  #creeper

Give me my own home over Starbucks any day!  I'll make the coffee and snacks.  I can wear comfy pants and not worry about shoes.  No one is looking at me while my eyes track the words across the page or I dribble coffee down my chest accidentally...again. 

It seems, though, that all the cool kids love leaving their houses and reading in the big, wide world.  It seems this way because of all the cute bookstagram photos. 

Am I being misled by social media (it wouldn't be the first time)?  Am I the only one who reads publicly under duress, purely for the occasional photo?