Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Time to read but no brain for it

I used to think, if only I had more time to read, I'd cut a canyon through my to-be-read pile. (The metaphor works because it is and has long been a vast mountain of a thing.) Every time a book that checks all my boxes comes out I'm all, YAY and one-click it and get really excited... and then it goes on top of the mountain, often never to be seen again.

Part of the problem, or so I thought, was lack of time. But right now, stuck in my house all day, every day, and no things to drive my kids to or appointments for dogs or husband or moms or self or grocery shopping or errands of any kind, I kind of do have time.

I just don't have the brain for it.

Like, I keep pulling books off the top of the mountain and cracking them open with glee, and they keep being well-written and engaging, but I just. Can't. Focus. I can't care. I surreptitiously side-peek at a news story or a think piece about the new normal or the endless Twitter feed of people freaking out.

I check my email.

I do the taxes.

But this week, I had a mini-breakthrough. My kids have a reading assignment for remote-learning school, and they have to sit down and read books for the project. Like, literally, butts in chairs, eyes on pages. So, in order to encourage this behavior, I told them I'd read with them. I started to reach for the peak of my mountain to pull down a much-longed-for piece of gooey fiction, but then I paused. Thought about it. And then grabbed a nonfiction book instead. To my surprise, it held my attention for hours. I zoomed through it, and for a little while, it was like old times, books and me, OTP.

So I'm thinking that's my strategy going forward. I'm on the lookout for nonfiction that can keep my attention off the news. Recs in comments, please!

Oh, and as a footnote, the topic of the book that brought me back to reading? The plague of 1347-1351. Because of course.

We get through this however we can, people.

1 comment:

  1. If you like biographies, Michelle Obama's and Demi Moore's (I realize this is a spread) are both very good and compelling. The Golden Bough is dense, but also very interesting for fantasy writers. And these are older, but Atul Gawande's Complications is thought provoking, as are the essay collections by Oliver Sacks and Stephen Jay Gould. Newer stuff that's similar are Malcolm Gladwell's books. Finally, I recommend Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write to *everyone*. It's not the usual thing - the subtitle is "A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit." It's about living life, too, and getting away from expectations.