Sunday, November 6, 2011
Sunday Coffee: My Readcation
Have you ever wanted to glut yourself on books? Like the character in the Chekhov story "The Bet" who ordered (and presumably read) six hundred books in four years (and learned six languages) I have frequently wished that I could just take a break from my life and do nothing but read books. In fact, I've used this blog to fantasize and wish for a readcation--a time to just stay at home and read books, nothing else.
Well, I finally did it. I took a staycation during our fall break, and turned it into a readcation. October was a particularly rough month. I won't give you the gory details--mostly since I've flushed them out of my brain, replacing those messy little stressors from the month of October with pages and pages of books, magazines, stories--whatever I could put my hands on to read. I read Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant, Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky, In the Woods by Tana French, and selected stories by Joyce Carol Oates ("Where is Here," "Pumpkin-Head," "The Story of the Stabbing,"). I finally finished Howard Dully's memoir My Lobotomy. And I took pleasure in opening up Poets & Writers the day it arrived in my mailbox, reading everything, including the letters from readers (those inevitably send me back to last month's issue, to read the articles I haven't read in that issue).
I don't know about you, but I don't read many magazines. My mother always gives me a subscription to Poets & Writers, which is one magazine I love. Besides helping nurture my writing, Poets & Writers is a great source for finding new writers and new books. I stopped buying magazines in stores because they are mostly ads for things I can't afford, and they cost as much or more than paperback books. But I recently subscribed to two new magazines, Yes! and The Sun.
In between books, stories and articles I puttered around the house, cooked lentil soup, and tidied up. I even dusted my snow globe collection. Am I the only one who finds housework strangely calming? Especially when I actually have time for it.
Friday was pay day, so I felt justified in buying a five-dollar latte (okay, that does make me cringe) and browsing at the local Barnes & Noble. Oops, buy two get the third free? I had to do it: Just Kids by Patti Smith, Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky, and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. And I picked up The Cider House Rules by John Irving because the movie is mentioned in Broken Glass Park and I am highly suggestible. Did I say I felt justified? I meant I was able to rationalize the expenditure. I did violate my basic financial rule of "Thou Shalt Enter No Store". This is a useful rule for impecuious teachers. My other basic financial rule is "Thou Shalt Spend No Money." I'm working on that one.
Monday is back to school, back to reality. Today I will be getting out the big bag of school papers that I stuck in a corner last Friday, and I'll try to wrap my brain around school again. It does make me wonder, though: how many more books could I be reading on a weekly basis if I just decided not to do other things? Obviously going to work is non-negotiable, and so is bringing home papers to grade. But there are still hours of the day that I fritter away on things that are not as important or as enjoyable to me as reading a book. The past few weeks have been full of deadlines, extra duties, and long hours at school--so the blog has suffered. But my reading time has suffered too, and that doesn't sit well with me. Books are a consolation and reading is one of the enduring pleasures of my life--and my readcation was a reminder of that. Maybe my life needs mini-readcations every now and then (a weekend here and there, maybe?).
How much of your time is given over to reading? Where in your day or your week do you find the time to read for pleasure?