Thoughts on Reading More
One of the things that’s keeping me sane these days is enjoying the piles of books on my desk. I love reading them, but I also just love having them around.
During this pandemic, some of us have had more time to read than usual, which is a great thing. I’m trying to make more time for it myself, sometimes the kids and I do a thing where we read independently for a bit and then read together and then back and forth. They’re still at an age where reading together is a treat, and I want to milk it for all its worth while I have them here, while also trying to stop my brain from congealing into glue.
A while back, I wrote a blog post on reading long books (I did end up finishing Middlemarch shortly after the blog post, if you were waiting for that happy ending). It seemed like the universe was sending me lots of lists with long books and it was a good time to finally make the effort. I’ve had a lovely and surprising number of conversations with people about the books they’re getting into these days.
The Toronto library has re-opened for curbside pick up and it’s tremendously exciting. We’ve all got a long road ahead of us here in the city, but just the fact of it, that the library can do it, they can set up tables outside to hand away bags of free books, makes it seems like we’re en route to bluer skies, heat wave or otherwise. I was rambling on the other day about how I’m obsessively managing my holds, which is a lovely way to spend a neurotic late night as the only person awake in your house. I’m sure there’s some sort of underlying psychological relationship to control issues after three months of looming uncertainty. Yes I WILL INDEED put that book I’m only indifferent about on hold.
In any case, I have 99 holds and you can have up to 100. As you know, I am a prudent person and I always leave space for emergencies.
While there are books for me, they are mostly books for Caleb and Naomi. We’ve been really enjoying some of the books we have, but we’re looking forward to getting back into some of the series we’ve been reading.
We’ve long gotten through all of the library books we borrowed, and so we’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction, picture books, re-reading some favourite chapter books we have here at home. I sometimes wonder if these ones will forever be associated with this weird time. We will likely reread them in the future anyways, and you can never step into the same river twice, so who knows. But for children, whose development changes so rapidly, it’s always a moving target to get longer books that are at the right level, and it’s satisfying to watch those familiar titles move to “in transit” on your library account.
Actually just quite recently Caleb and I started The Chronicles of Narnia for his bedtime story. A while ago, I had gotten the full set with colour illustrations for some future time, which I was thinking might be too complex for him, but to my delight Caleb has been really enjoying it. We finished the first one last week and we’re now in the second book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We’re just at the part where Peter is about to do some battling with his sword and shield, and Caleb is so ready for it. Admittedly, there are some parts that I did not recall from my youth that haven’t aged very well, but we’re all going to get through it, and the magic is still there.
As for me, I am also reading and savouring those minutes out on the fire escape. I’m making lists of titles and piles of books in different categories with the breeze coming in through the window at night.
The stacks of books on my desk are joining boxes of ink and piles of stationery and new pens to test out or to photograph or to blog about. Some of the books are to bring into the shop, some for future Wonder Pens Reads picks, some to read to make decisions about, some to blog about, some just for my own diving. I believe very strongly in being ambitious or even overambitious in your reading, although I know that’s not for everyone. Apparently Bill Gates, a tremendous reader, tries not to start books he doesn’t think he’s going to finish, and so is quite judicious about what books he begins. Apparently he also carries around a book tote! I only carry around one book at a time, to his fifteen, which is probably also a good relative ratio of our brain sizes. I haven’t seen the Netflix documentary on Bill Gates, in which his book tote plays a cameo, although it’s on my list if we ever re-subscribe to Netflix.
Jon always teases (“teases”) me that I’m reading library books or buying more books despite all the unread ones on my shelves, but what can I say. I like the dream of having lots to read. Bringing home stacks, whether it’s from the library or to keep.
Whole lazy afternoons of reading are a bit beyond my purview right now, but I will take whatever quiet moments I can get.