I started reading early when my sister wanted to play school. As the one of us with any real-world school experience, she was the teacher. I don’t remember much of the actual workings of this – so no adorable Baby Tina and Baby Diana stories – but she did her job well, and by god I knew how to read.
She is a great reader, and has no pleasure in anything else.
– Miss Bingley, Pride & Prejudice
By the time I was nine or so, I spent hours and hours on the floor in my room, reading, instead of cleaning my room. (Parents – it’s silly to make your kids stay in a room to accomplish something they don’t want to do when their favorite pass time is ALSO in that room.) When it was time to learn how to drive, I knew how to get to maybe three places – church, school, Target. I never paid attention in the car because I always had a nose in a book, so I never really learned where anything was in relation to my house. I always had a book (or two, just in case) in my back pack.
What was I even reading? Every Baby-sitters Club book ever. That’s not true. I just looked it up, I think I read into the 70s, but the books go up to 131. I think I had 7 super specials. Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I loved Harriet the Spy. A Wrinkle In Time. And lots of stuff I’ve sadly forgotten. I had no concept of a reading journal at the time, although now I wish I had one to go through and read what I thought about these books, other than vague fond memories.
Eventually and ironically, college was when I really stopped reading so voraciously. I loved English classes in high school, and did so well that I tested out of any literature or writing class in college. Young people: do not test out of doing the things you love. Sandbag if you have to, and get college credit and a good grade for doing something you love. You will have to take bullshit like Accounting and Biogeography of the Global Garden, so you may as well take what you can get. Then I graduated and I had so much hanging out at bars to do. Well, and travelling, and experiencing life, etc. Now I find myself spending all of my time – more time than I have, really – caring for my career, my house, my body, my stuff (all encompassing). Where on earth would I find time to do the dozen or so projects I mentally have queued up – or, at that, READ something?
I am not a great reader, and take pleasure in many things.
– Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
Honestly? I’m trying too hard. More on that in another post, but as a friend so succinctly put it, less is more. I’ve been doing lots of stuff – some for fun, some for necessity (or what I think is necessity) and feeling like things are missing from my life. If I won the lottery, one of the things I’d do is get a literature degree for no reason at all. Just for fun. So why am I not just plain old reading? Now?
Enter the very auspicious way in which I found this reading challenge. One of my favorite paleo food bloggers/cookbook authors, Mel Joulwan, posted that she was going to be on a podcast called What Should I Read Next? Wait, there are podcasts about reading? I queued it up on my next commute, and came away with about 6 titles I wanted to read. (The Historian? Yes please.) Then the host identified her blog – Modern Mrs. Darcy, aka named after one of my favorite (jk, my definite top favorite) literary characters of all time. You bet I headed right over where I found all kinds of goodness. An online book club! Since I tried one in real life, and we mostly talked over mimosas about how none of us read the book, an online one that I didn’t have to organize or schedule or pick a book for or go pick up books or whatever sounded wonderful. I signed right up. She also posted a reading challenge, with fun categories like “a book you chose for the cover” and “a book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit”. I signed right up for that too, and am now picking my books!
More on the books themselves later. For now, I’m really enjoying the feeling of starting something New – even though this is one of the oldest things I’ve ever done. I feel like I try new stuff all the time and have an ever growing list of hobbies and projects, but I never get really great at any of them. Even before when trying to “read more” it just felt like another thing I wasn’t getting done. It’s nice to be going back to something that I’m already pretty great at.