Thursday, June 12, 2008

Isn't "leisure reading" an oxymoron?

There are lots of things I feel guilty about: eating the whole batch of cookies (especially if they're gone before Kyle even comes home from work), letting Ellie "babysit" herself and her brother every morning so I can sleep in a little longer, occasionally staying up late scribbling down do-it-yourself home decor ideas from, etc. This entry isn't a confessional, though. It's a plea for help. See, I also really feel guilty about never making time to read. I like to use the alibi that ever since I've been old enough to have good taste in literature, I've made myself too busy to pursue it. This, unfortunately, must be untrue, because in reality I'm no busier than your average adult who still makes time to read for leisure. I was perusing a friend's blog the other day and he wrote a lengthy post about how much more attractive his wife is, how intelligent and informed and conscientious and confident-- yadda yadda you get the point-- she is because she reads. I'm thinking, "but I read... my emails... and other people's blog posts... and Green Eggs & Ham..." No no, this girl doesn't read-- she just inhales mass amounts of written work. She's read over 70 books this year already. How that's possible except through osmosis, I'm not sure. Then again, she's doing her masters degree in library science, so it may not all be elective reading.

In any case, I know many within the audience of this blog find the time to snuggle up with a paperback on a regular basis. How do you manage to do this without ignoring your familial (and other) responsibilities? During the few periods in which I've picked up a novel the past year, I was basically non-functional outside of the realm of that book. Until I'd reached the last page, my husband and kids didn't get any meals or attention, messes didn't get cleaned, I doubt I showered, I definitely didn't sleep much, didn't answer the phone, yeah. So... I have this great desire to read real, good stuff, and not just out of guilt! I really, sincerely do enjoy it, and recognize the value for myself and anyone else within my social sphere. So here comes my inaugural blog post survey:

Note: I don't think you should vote for that last one, though. Every mother knows that once the kids suspect something is more interesting to you at that moment than they are, the previously appealing distraction becomes sharply disinteresting.

Okay, while we're all in cyber audience participation-mode, let me also request recommendations for children's books and authors. I've grown quite weary of kids' Chinglish literature and the few books we brought from home, and the others I borrowed from an art teacher, so they're all Caldecott winners but the writing surprisingly lacks substance and creativity. Since I'm coerced into reading the same book of Ellie's choice several times daily for a stretch of days, I'd just appreciate being able to somewhat enjoy the material myself. Dr. Seuss is wonderful, but if all you read was Dr. Seuss three times a day, you'd be seeking some variety, too.

While you're at it, feel free to throw in a couple recommendations for my brand new "up next on the shelf" book list. I've been away from the library for so long that I've never heard of any of the books you all are reading, so please enlighten me, but only if you responded affirmatively to the first survey question. Otherwise you're just taunting me and perpetuating my poor mind's cycle of guilt and ignorance.


blaine and michelle said...

You know, I have the same problem. But remember, the girl who has read 70 books this year does not have any kids. I am trying to read more as well. Actually, reading AT ALL for me is reading more than I have in the last 4 years. I've decided that reading 15-30 minutes at night will probably do me more good than that extra few minutes of sleep, so I've started again. I have to make myself not get too into it, so I can actually put it down. It's a struggle. Anyway, here are some books that have been recommended to me lately (but I haven't read yet): Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
I'm starting Laddie tonight...

Tana said...

I feel the same way about reading. Plus I get headaches from reading sometimes. I have often gotten audiobooks from the library. I LOVE THEM, and the kids sometimes listen too. I put them on when we color or clean or even when I sew. Some audiobooks are awesome, and some are rather boring (and it has nothing to do with the content). If the person reading the book is mono toned it can be a good snoozer. Anyway, the harry potters are awesome in audiobook. I have recently gotten the magic tree house books on cd for the kids. I tried several of the classics but many were hard to get through. I listened to les Mis when I was 15 or so on tape and remember loving it, but I tried reading the book a year or two ago and couldn't get into it. I think I heard an abridged version. Anyway, good luck. It's a constant struggle for me to find time to read, I used to be in a book club and did well with reading, but Joe was a baby and only child.

Amy said...

Tif, I'm intrigued by this blog entry and here are my thoughts.

Scenario #1 -- Brian -- he never reads, but when he watches a movie he HAS to watch it to the end. It doesn't matter if he's seen it before and it's past midnight and I'm begging him to go to bed. It doesn't matter if it is the lamest movie ever made. He simply cannot pay attention to anything else in his life until the credits are rolling.

Scenario #2 -- Me -- I can spread a DVD out over three days if need be. I can watch it in 5 minute segments and attend to other areas in my life in between. I can watch half a movie on T.V., feel tired, and then go to bed right in the middle never to finish and not really care.

Then there is me with books. I love to read, and, lots of my mom friends say, "How do you find time to read so much?" The answer is that I always take a book with me wherever I go. There are multitudes of opportunities to read a page or two. For example, in the waiting room at the Dr.'s office, while the kids play on the playground, when Brian is driving, or while nursing (I actually was never much of a reader until I started nursing my first baby -- that is when I became a read-aholic).

But, the thing is, I don't mind reading a paragraph here and a page there. Some people aren't like that.

And, the only time it becomes a problem is when I get near the end of a really good book. Then, I become antsy to finish and start neglecting everything until I get to the end. So, I can totally relate to that feeling.

To sum up, maybe your personality is more like Brian's, so reading without falling into oblivion is more of a challenge. My mother-in-law absolutely loves to read more than anyone I know. She somehow limits herself to one chapter per day of whatever she is reading (not including scriptures and spiritual stuff). So, she allows herself to be completely absorbed and neglect everything . . . until the end of the chapter, however long or short. Maybe you could do that or set a timer or something.

Okay, this is really long, but here is what I have to say about children's books. Just when all the kiddie books started to get really stale, I suddenly realized that there is this whole other section next to the kiddie picture books in our library -- the ones that are factual and organized by the dewey decimal system (the name for this section escapes me right at the moment).

Suddenly, we were reading all about bees, the human body, jungle animals, bugs, magic, compost piles, sign language, and bulldozers. The books are geared toward kids (sometimes you have to pare it down for smaller kids), and it's really, really interesting!!!

Oh, and soon your kids will be into fun reads like Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and later, the Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie and other fun classics.