Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Summer Reading Moods

It's summertime in these parts.  We've had lazy days, days at the beach, visits from family, visited family.  There are a few things we still want to do and a vacation on the horizon.  But the next couple of weeks I feel like I will be walking on a tightrope, dangerously close to falling into the abyss of chaos that my life can become with four kids and little routine. 

This weekend we spent time in Harper's Ferry, WV.  It was a fun overnight trip that included fighting, sniping, laughing, complaining, kindness, and grumpiness.  Though those things sound like they can't coexist, the more I'm a mom, the more I realize they do more often than not. 

As usual, I packed three books because you never know what you'll want to read at any given moment.  I ignored my book club book in favor of the next book in the Louise Penny series when I got some time to read while the kids were in the pool after a day hiking and visiting historic sites in 90% humidity.  I was completely immersed in the world of the book--it was glorious.  After a long, full day we went to dinner and I was happy and optimistic. 

Well written, immersive novels make my heart flutter.  I find myself reaching for them instead of my phone.  I look for people to talk to about them.  Reading is a hobby, not a job so I should be able to find joy in my books.  And when I do, I get up from my reading chair refreshed and content--even if I was just crying over a moving scene.  Ahhhhh.

replace the bottle of perfume with a book and this is me

We came home and I spent time working and trying to corral my kids on Monday.  I was getting more and more frustrated and I realized my mood was tied to my book--I had switched over to the book my book club had picked and I can't stand it. 

After I recognized this shift in my mood and the way each time I turned a page I felt like I was dying a thousand deaths, I made an executive decision.  I'm done.  That's it.  This need to complete books is to discuss them is ridiculous.  If I hate the book, I need to ditch it.  I set the book aside and I feel liberated, empowered. 

Life is too short to read a book I can't stand.  There are lots of other books I want to read and I know exactly what I don't like about this particular book (I'm 200 pages into this 400-page novel) and it's not changing. 

Maybe it's more important to be mindful of the ways my books are making me feel in this season, where I'm home with four kids trying to avoid losing my mind.  I like thinking deep thoughts, feeling feelings, and laughing...I don't like being annoyed by poorly edited novels, catching contradictions that seem obvious, and not being able to tell the difference between the voices in a multiple perspective novel.

Reader: know thyself!

Maybe someone needs to hear this: it's ok to set it down.  To not like the book everyone else loves and to not finish your book for book club if it's physically painful to keep going.  Do your family and your mood a favor and set it down. 

So, now that I've put that aside, I can pick up another book to fill the gap in my roster.  I think I'll tackle East of Eden this summer.  I've been looking forward to digging into a big classic that I haven't read yet and a few people have recommended this one to me. 

How does reading change your mood?  What book experiences make you feel refreshed and content and which ones are physically painful? 

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