Reading Gone Awry
But I do love a good book — historical novels, nonfiction, modern chick lit, graphic novels, Harry Potter, anything that can transport me into another world. When I was in school, I probably read about 25-30 books a year for fun, mostly over the summer and other school breaks. When I started working full-time (pre-law school) and my daily commute became my best opportunity to read, that dropped to about 20-25 books. Starting in law school, my work involved reading case after case all day, every day, and reading lost some appeal as a hobby. Another drop. With the move to Kentucky, I was no longer commuting by public transportation. Another Drop. So, my book count probably dropped to about 15-20 a year. Then came pregnancy. There was probably a spike in my reading rate during that time, but the only place those books transported me was to the labor room in my imagination and the anxieties of motherhood. In the 14 months since Lilly was born, reading for fun has been sadly neglected. To the best of my recollection this is all I’ve managed to get through (in reverse order):
- The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Annette Gordon-Reed) — in progress…for months!
- What to Expect: The Toddler Years (H. Murkoff) — in progress
- What to Expect: The First Year (A. Eisenberg, H. Murkoff & S. Hathaway)
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (Marc Weissbluth, M.D.)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
- The Enchantress of Florence (Salmon Rushdie) — abandoned 2/3 of the way in
- Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Bill Bryson)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale (James B. South) — not the best in this philosophy series, but short chapters kept me going
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling) — I re-read this right after Lilly was born under the laughable assumption that I would also re-read Half-Blood Prince before the Deathly Hallows. Yeah right!
- The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood (Vicki Iovine)
So, there it is. I’m down to less than 10 books a year, almost 50% of which are baby-related books. That is a depressing fact. I suppose the silver lining is that I’ve become a more practical reader. I used to be the kind of person who always had to read a book to the end, no matter how tedious a chore it became. Now, I have no time, and thus no patience, for meandering stories with no point and poor writing. I have no qualms about setting aside a book that is doing little more than wasting time that could be spent reading a good book. And I’m willing to put in the time to get through a compelling book — and it takes lots of time when you only read 5-6 pages at once. (The drawback to this new style of reading, however, is that I miss out on those books like Gone With the Wind that seem to move too slow for a while but then become a fantastic read in the last 100 pages.)
I’m thinking there must be a better way. How do moms do this!? It can’t be that we all must fall out of the literate world just because we have reproduced! Maybe there needs to be a new kind of book club for moms. One that meets every six months and expects that you’ve only read the first chapter. Or one that skips the analysis and conversation and consists solely of a brainstorming session where moms can piece together the storyline of the book based on the group’s faint memories of our brief moments of reading before falling asleep. Who am I kidding? We’d just descend into conversation about sleep schedules, toddler tantrums and teething anyway. And then I’d have to pick up the latest What to Expect book.
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