When I started this entry originally — ooh, must have been sometime in the summer, I was responding to an article I read in The Guardian about the role of the reader versus that of the writer. Umberto Eco’s response surprised me as he struck me as someone who spent long hours with his nose in comics and books as he does writing them, but the positing of, “We are thus deeply influenced by books we haven’t read, that we haven’t had the time to read.” is deeply revealing not only of Eco, but also the world at large which I think was his point. I know I’m not the only person who when meeting another, especially once I’m invited into their home, immediately look for their bookshelves to see what their reading. But the advent of the Kindle and other ebook devices have now circumvented my nosiness. THANKS, AMAZON.
Which brings us to me and my reading and writing habits.
The image above is our TBR pile that is organized by owner as of mid-2012. What you’re not seeing is the nearly falling stacks in our bedroom on one of our dressers, our stacks of books on our ereaders OR taking into account the piles you see to your left have doubled since this picture was taken.
The topics on the shelves are diverse from ancient history to contemporary art criticism, with YA fiction thrown in for good measure and everything inbetween. Despite the breadth of content available, my secret shame is not what I have purchased and not read, but my reading lists on Amazon which number titles in the hundreds, organized neatly by topic. I want to read all the words in the world.
In the beginning of this year, I made the commitment to not purchase another book until my stacks were cleared. Which I mostly kept to – but I also snuck around this rule simply by ordering books via interlibrary loan and then reading them in bits and pieces before they were sent back. Two titles I’ve requested and received enough times that I really should just buy the damn books. I also circumvented this by supporting things via Kickstarter – because it’s for a good cause! And then later, you get presents you totally forgot about in the mail.
The problem I had been struggling with is my lack of reading books, but in my head I took it to mean I was not reading anything at all. When I did the update earlier in November on the goals laid out in Kalendae Januariae, I reconciled the fact my book reading was down because I was reading so much more in other media (magazines, newspapers, etc). But I feel a sickening shame and my heart drops, no matter how I try to spin it in my head, I’m just not reading enough and by that I mean books. As of today, I have read NINE books in 2013, my goal for 2013 was to read 50. I am also influenced by people I follow across the social spheres who are reading books voraciously and widely, something I admire, which is helping giving me a kick in the arse to get going on my own book reading again.
To accommodate more book reading time, I’ve started with small changes such as taking an actual lunch break during the day and reading in the staff lounge instead of the usual eating at my desk while staring mindlessly at a monitor. TheHusband and I have also set aside, several nights a week, time after dinner to read which has been helping. I’ve also swapped my morning ritual around to include a breakfast that requires me to sit and eat, rather than eat on the go and it is during this time I catch up on newspapers, magazines, and of course books.
This upcoming week I am off for the holiday and I’ve resolved to read 3 books before I go back to work on December 2. When I go on holiday shutdown in mid-December, and I’m off for nearly a month, I initially resolved to finish a book a day. The more realistic approach to this since we’re having family in town and other plans is probably a book every two days. If I can make those two challenges work, plus whatever other book reading I get in between then, should start making a dent in my back piles.
This also applies to my comics, which with gifts, Kickstarter, and my own personal spending habits have gotten widely out of control.
Now that I’ve been writing daily for almost a month, and even wrote a poem or two in the process as well as some notes for some shorts, I now know that setting the task of a small goal and achieving that goal can be done! It’s astonishing how such a small change can make a huge difference even in how you approach things in life, because knowing I set myself up for this, I find how as I write more, I want to read more, and as I read more, I want to write more. It’s a very pleasurable circle jerk that allows me to expand my world, one page at a time.
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. Jane Austen
Thanks Jane, I couldn’t have said it better myself.