So I’ve been feeling more and more stressed lately, with a difficult job project, not knowing when my husband’s surgery will be while he continues to feel worse, talking about moving to a less stressful town for both of us after his surgery but again, not knowing when that will be… and on top, all of my reading challenges… so I decided to cut back on a few of those, at least for now, maybe I’ll come back to some later!
I realized that, as nice as it is to continue to broaden the scope of what I read, I sometimes do it at the expense of the types of books I really would prefer to read. For example, in my last year of university, I wanted to start reading more modern classic female authors like A.S. Byatt and Carol Shields, but soon decided oh wait, I don’t read enough men so went off and did a lot of that but I still haven’t read any Carol Shields (except for one short story)! I enjoy Victorian novels, but don’t read them as often as I’d like either (factor in the daunting-ness of them).
So I say, challenges to read outside my comfort zone are all well and good, but at some point, there are certain books and certain types of books that define me more than others. And in times of stress, those are the books I need. Plus I typically only read about 50 books a year, so I’d rather spend that reading the authors I truly care about, that I know will engage and comfort and enlighten me.
One of my favourite book blogs is Vintage Reads,which is so beautiful and restful whenever I go there. Nicola reads what she likes, women authors from the 19th and early 20th century, there’s always a lovely photo and a short review. There isn’t any frantic attention getting that everyone seems to tell you is necessary in order to have a successful blog. I love reading and writing or I wouldn’t be book blogging, but I’ve often wondered why I worry so much what people will think over something that is supposed to be for fun and is completely voluntary and free. (I’m opposed to advertising or money from links or whathaveyou on the grounds that our society/world is already over-saturated with advertising and I won’t add to it if I can help it.)
My last post reminded me that I don’t even read the type of writing I used to enjoy so much, poetic prose. I’m on the computer more often lately (have also cut back the number of blogs I’m following, from about 90 to 43, phew!) and I find my eyes sort of jittering over the page, as if looking for the glow of a screen to take hold on. I couldn’t even relax into Proust like I used to when I pulled out some of his books yesterday. It seemed too hard to force my mind to slow down and work at the slow pace he was drifting in.
I don’t know if this means I need to post less here as well or what. I’ve also been thinking over a writing project that I just didn’t have time to start before, so it seemed. (No, I am not a do a lot of things at once kind of person!)
There’s more I could write about this, about how I want to be myself with the books I read and the way I choose to write about them and worry less about doing things the ‘correct’ way, but I’m going to give my eyes a break for a while. Know that I do admire and support everyone who reads outside their comfort zone and that I’ve found and enjoyed good books by doing this (I never thought I’d like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but one section of it deeply changed how I look at certain friendships). But but now I want to take the time to stop the rush to keep up with what everyone else is reading and what I think I should be reading and just catch up on those authors I’ve been meaning to read and those I know I’ll deeply enjoy. I want to find more of the type of book I’ll really love, not just another challenging book I can force myself through.
This is one of my biggest problems as a reader. I look for good writing first, but it often comes attached to a story that is hard to read. On the other hand, I don’t want to be so pulled through the story by a rushing plot that I have no time to savour it, as in most mystery novels. I want to relax with good writing, but frankly don’t feel I have enough loved to bits comfort novels. Often the books I most admire get put down as my favourites, but the fact is, they’re not books that are easy to reread. And I wish I could find more books that I loved so much that rereading was the deepest pleasure.
(And on a completely other note, Canada’s Space channel has started showing old Doctor Who every day and may I just say that I prefer Christopher Eccleston over David Tennant and so on?)