Monday, July 31, 2017

And Just Before I Leave...I'm Back!

So...I got a little side-tracked.

 A few months ago I made this lofty goal for the year 2017. In a concentrated effort to make my way through the plethora of books that have been accumulating on my bookshelves, I decided to attempt to read a book each and every week throughout 2017.

The goal was aggressive, I admit. But I thought to myself - it was better to try than to leave most, if not all of them, unread this year and feel guilty about the fact that I wasn't reading them. I have a wee bit of a book addiction. I have never cottoned onto e-readers because I like books. I like to hold them in my hands. I like the feel of them. Sometimes the covers have that velvety smooth feeling. Sometimes they have raised writing.

The pages are always neat and tidy with new books. I can't decide if I prefer the really clean feeling of pages that are often used with textbook-type books--you know what I mean, they are smooth and and weighty feeling--or if I would rather hold a book that has the jaggedy, uneven pages of certain paperbacks that has a bit of a pre-worn feel to them--kinda like buying jeans with the rips already at the thighs or knees.

Either way. I'm find myself a bit helpless in bookstores. I know that I am not alone.

I set this big goal of mine and did my best to keep up. I read through a week of holidays home with the kids. I read through Holy Week. I read when my dear one squired me away for a few days on my birthday. I read and I read and I read. And then I couldn't read anymore.

I was tired of reading. I was tired of deadlines. I was tired of the rather heavy topics. I started saying, "I should" to myself. When one starts to say, "I should be reading", reading loses its joy. Reading becomes a chore. Reading becomes a burden. It is no longer relaxing. It's no longer fun. It's not a quiet, peaceful event. It's work. It's a burden.

So, I stopped cold turkey. I just put down the book I was reading and didn't pick it back up. A certain someone kept asking when I was going to put up a new blog post so it could be shared on the church Facebook page. I began avoiding eye contact. I didn't read for work or for fun. I just read magazines and Twitter (well, who can blame me for that with the soap opera of Trump's White House being played out by tweet?).

I wondered if I had broken my reading bone.

Then I went on holidays. On our first full day of our two weeks at the lake, my dear one says to me, "I would like you to read The Happiness Project so we can talk about it. Can you read a chapter a day so we can discuss it?" How can you resist a request a like that? The book was written by Gretchen Rubin. Apparently the author's thoughts and views reminded him of me. What's ironic is that I lent him the book when he was bereft of reading material in June.

I started reading that Monday. And I couldn't put it down. Turns out my reading bone wasn't broken after all. I had just sprained it a bit.

I finished the book that Friday. And then I finished the book I abandoned in May. Then I read two more. I rediscovered my love of reading just in time for me to leave for Africa.

We're off to the airport soon for the Zambia Youth Exposure Tour and I promised the certain someone that I would get this post to her before I left and then have another when return. I'm taking four books along with me. After I finish them, I will give them to the theological students we meet though the United Church of Zambia. So - a double goal - read and gift away the books.

Because I'm rushing off, I am not doing a book review on the books. I'm just accounting for them and giving a quick comment.

First - The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. My dear one was right - Gretchen and I might actually be the same person.

AWESOME book. This is someone who is an average, every day person who doesn't have huge struggles in her life but still finds herself wondering if she could enjoy life more. Not be so cranky or have, as her default setting, an attitude that precludes noticing the good things going on all around her. As my dear one has said, 'there's many a sermon in this book'. And maybe a book study.

Next, the oh so exciting sounding, Transforming Congregational Culture by Anthony Robinson. Honestly, this book is quite great. In fact, I think the reason why I stopped reading it was because I was trying to skip through it too quickly and was finding that I wanted to make notes to take to the Board at church. Which seemed like more work than my weeks were allowing at the beginning of May. So, I tried again and finished it. It was worth taking the time to slow down and make the notes.

Third - An Altar in the World by one of my most favourite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor. This book needs to be read by anyone who is exploring how to live the whole of their lives being present to the presence of God. Again - sermons abound and a book study of it would be well worth the time.

And, finally, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by my next most favourite author, Anne Lamott. The book is named as thus because when they were children, her brother had a massive report to do on birds. He had three months to complete the assignment. Anne remembers her brother, near tears, sitting at the dining room table at the cabin on the Sunday before the report was due having not done any work in the previous three months. Their father, a published author, went over to him and told him that it would be alright, he just had to write it bird by bird. Anne's writing is so easy to read. She is funny. And vulnerable. And encouraging. I love Anne.

So, that's it. My Goodreads Goal Page tells me that I am currently SEVEN books behind schedule - even AFTER I've entered the books that I will read in Africa. Sigh. Not ideal. But better than before. To give me a boost, I took a photo of all that I have read so that I can see how much I've already read in 2017. Nineteen books so far.