Reading should be fun, not work – well, except for that lucky lot that does manage to make a living in the publishing world, I suppose. But for the rest of us, when reading becomes more chore than joy, drastic measures need to be taken. Coming into 2017, I was beginning to feel that it was time to slow my reading pace a little because I sensed I was edging into dangerous territory. I felt pressured to read a certain number of pages per day if I were to have any chance of keeping up with the number of review copies I had accepted for review – and I really wanted to read all of them because I only accept or request books that appeal to me enough that I would have been happy to buy them on my own.
So I took my foot off the gas in January, dropping my average number of pages read by a bit over ten percent, figuring that would do it. Well, I think it spoiled me, because my February pace is only about sixty-five percent of what it was a year ago and I’m finishing about one-third fewer books than I’ve finished in the past. But you know what? It really doesn’t bother me because I find myself doing more of the other things I haven’t allowed myself much time for in the last three or four years.
I’m watching more movies than ever, as evidenced here on Book Chase where my “Movies for Readers” feature has grown into an almost-every-Thursday event in recent weeks. (Netflix and Amazon Prime are abundant fonts of high quality movies – right alongside all the trash that appeals to today’s younger movie audience, of course, so you have to search for it). I’m reading more magazines and blogs than I have in years, and because I’m doing my best to tune out most of the talking heads on television, I don’t feel nearly as stressed out as I have in recent months. That could be, too, because I’m listening to more music than I have in months, and I’m taking the time to visit with friends as often as possible just to enjoy the moment.
So it’s working.
I think I’ve settled into the new reading pattern now. The blog will continue to look much as it has in the last few months, with no noticeable changes to format or subject matter because I’m still reading with a purpose – only being more selective about what I read than ever before and allowing my curiosity to carry me where it may. That said, these are the books I’m reading at the moment:
Jolie Is Somewhere by Alana Cash – I first met Alana Cash a few years ago when I reviewed another novel of hers that I really enjoyed called Tom’s Wife. This one is about an Oklahoma girl who moves to New York after high school to start, she hopes, an exciting new life. But she ends up in prison for a crime she did not commit, and comes out of the experience determined to get even with the four people who let it all happen to her. Cash is an excellent storyteller and I was fully invested in her story and characters within just a few pages.
Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission by Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney – This one tells of how Eisenhower worked so hard to make sure that his Democratic successor, John Kennedy, was fully prepared to step into Ike’s shoes on January 20, 1961. The three days in question begin on January 17 when Eisenhower gave his farewell address to the country (and he hoped, prepared everyone to pull together with the new president for the good of the entire nation) and January 20, the day of Kennedy’s inauguration. Eisenhower warned “against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest,” a message that, as we look back, seems to have been forgotten long ago.
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – This is an oldie-but-goodie that I remember reading as a kid but have not picked up since, and knowing well how easily precious reading memories can be tainted or destroyed by more recent reading experience with the same material, I was a bit reluctant to take it on. As it turns out, I had no reason to worry. Bradbury’s stories are beautifully connected here to remind readers that the clash of two alien cultures very often leads to tragic, unforeseen consequences like those experienced here by the Martian population when invaders from Earth landed on Mars one fine day.
In addition to these three, I’m dipping in and out of the Whittaker Chambers memoir Witness (which is proving to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated it would be) and the anthology titled The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century (which has been very useful as a source of excellent material for my Time Travel Tuesday short stories.
And, with a bit of time travel of my own, I am writing this post on Thursday afternoon for automatic posting on Friday morning at three a.m. because I’m about to head out to the first game of a three-day baseball tournament that my grandson’s high school is playing this weekend. So life is not only good; it has never been better.
Keep your fingers crossed.