What I’m Reading

It’s day sixteen of my 21 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s prompt is reading, specifically what am I reading right now. In the past month I haven’t done much actual reading, but I have given it more serious thought than ever before.

My typical method of reading has been to pick up whatever book interests me in the moment. I would get up early in the morning to avoid disturbing anyone. In those days, reading or writing was not an activity I was encouraged to do. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say it was forbidden.

I kept most of my books in my closet. Occasionally, when my interests or focus would change, I would spend several hours, sometimes little by little over the course of several days, ordering and arranging them into a kind of system.

Since then, circumstances have changed, and I once again have the opportunity to read as freely as I did in college. There are only two differences: time (a newfound awareness of its brevity, and the management of this limited resource) and direction (the simple complex decision of what to read).

Most of my reading lately is focused on spirituality, psychology, and self-help. It’s been a difficult year. My choices these days are Psalms and Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton.

I spent some time this month organizing my books on Goodreads for the first time. It’s daunting to see people with hundreds and even thousands of titles on their virtual shelves. I also created a system for intentional reading and learning. It’s part book queue and part note-taking system on Evernote.

Last night I spent hours rereading my personal journals for this year, reflecting on what I’ve learned and on my progress.

In the upcoming year, I hope to read more poetry, memoir, and certain books in the magical realism genre.

Other books I’m slowly but surely working my way through: Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst, The New Diary: How to use a journal for self-guidance and expanded creativity by Tristine Rainer.

Books I’ll most likely read next will be No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet.

I also read articles and blogs daily in my Feedly and on my Flipboard apps and organize them on Pocket.

It can be a little overwhelming, and I’m still in the process of creating a working system to read more in general (going to try a 20 pages a day habit) and to read more efficiently and effectively, as a writer.

Preferences

One of my goals in the coming year is to read more, and to make a daily habit of reading.

Deciding what to read has been a challenge for me.

I come across many book and author recommendations, but in all honesty, I don’t always agree with them.

I’ve always feared that this was a liability as a reader, writer and educated person, but I’m realizing now that I don’t have to worry about guilting myself into reading something that just doesn’t interest me.

For example, I recently realized I know little about fairies (or is it faeries?)

When it comes to fairies, and even fairy tales, I have mixed feelings. (What is the relationship between the fairy and the fairy tale?)

Sometimes I find a subject or genre interesting, but I don’t enjoy a particular author’s interpretation of it, or their perspective is so opposite from mine that I have difficulty seeing it.

I do believe it’s important to be a well-rounded person, and to be able to see the world from different points of view. However, I don’t think I’ll be enjoying much military fiction in the near future.

I recently came across a free novel by Ernest Hemmingway. Even though I recognize his skill as a writer, I know I’m probably not going to enjoy Islands in the Stream. So I’ll probably be passing it along.

Preferences are something that I’m going to need to pay closer attention to if I want to succeed in my goal of developing a reading habit. As with any other choice that we must make about how to spend our time and energy, reading material is no different. We must be self-aware and discerning. I plan on making more conscious choices in my reading selections this year. I am hoping this helps me as a writer and as a person.