I finished up the last journal entries for my February finishes (here’s my 2022 shelf on Goodreads) this afternoon and spent a bit of time reflecting. It’s pretty clear that books and reading were my respite settling back into everyday life with two people and a dog … and then preparing for just two people. Holly and I spent hours in the chair with a book (and if it was an audiobook, a book and knitting). We started at 5am most mornings and ending many evenings well past 9pm. Books and reading – and buddy reads and bookclubs (connecting over books) – really grounded me in those hard days (and nights). Here are the ♥-notes from my February summary:
♥ re-reading. Three of those 5-star reads (all except Vital Phenomena) were re-reads, as was The Shell Seekers. I never thought of myself as a re-reader (because SO many books and so LITTLE time), but I’m converted now. and my first March finish was a re-read!
♥ still loving memoir & essays – this has turned out to be a great way into non-fiction for me, and I find that it works really well on audio, especially if the author narrates.
♥ becoming a completist: Sarah Winman – I have one more novel to go, and Anthony Marra – I’ve now read both of his novels and they were five star reads. I pre-ordered his third novel, coming in July.
♥ exploring further: Bernardine Evaristo (see March TBR) and Rosamunde Pilcher (planning to re-read Coming Home with folks from Fiction Matters in April).
♥ having a TBR. This was the first month since I started putting one together that I actually finished or at least started all the books. I did read four other books, so I’m still being a little flexible 😉 … but having the books planned – especially when I borrow most of the books I read – has improved the quality of my reads. I don’t find myself reading something just because it’s “immediately available.” I did realize midway through February that I needed more audio and I needed something light to balance heavier reads (and life). I took all that into consideration when I planned March. We’ll see! (and note that I planned March on Sunday … a few days ago.)
When I shared my February reads on Instagram (yesterday), Betty asked if I’d ever experienced times when “reading” was just “reading words” and “nothing made sense”. I replied: “I’ve definitely had days when I didn’t want to read anything. But rarely more than a few at a time. Reading is such a routine part of my life that *not* reading feels out of balance. So I lean into different kinds of books … the period when my dad was in hospice and after he passed I picked up historical romance (will always be grateful to Sarah MacLean for that), and when COVID started I read/ reread Mary Kay Andrews. I’m also in multiple bookclubs and there is always a selection or two that I want to read each month so I can discuss. I guess for me the key is just to read – even 30 minutes a day- and trust that I’ll eventually come back to the self that wants to read all the things 24/7.”
I finished a book on Tuesday morning (while we were waiting to go to the vet) and didn’t pick up anything else that day. Yesterday, I spent that early morning time doing other things; I finally picked up a book mid-day (a new one for Lent) … and late in the afternoon really wanted to read something. I texted my mom this photo
with the comment that the chair seemed way too big. She suggested I needed a bigger pillow. and some time. The book is After You’d Gone, Maggie O’Farrell’s first novel and I can say it’s very engaging. Also, the chair still feels very big.
In closing, my edition of A Year of Marvellous Ways, by Sarah Winman (which I highly recommend if you love a bit of magic in your stories) includes a lovely essay “To Be a Reader” at the end.
To be a reader is to feel a little less lonely. To be a reader is to be challenged. To feel anger, to feel outrage and injustice. But always to feel, always to think. To be a reader is not a passive state, it is active, always responding … to be a reader is a cool thing to be … to be a reader is wealth.Sarah Winman
nah, really in closing, I want to know if we have any March plans in common? connecting about books is one of my very favorite things about Being a Reader!