Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rediscovering my Passion for Reading

Last summer, my then-twelve-year-old daughter devoured The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn. When she was finished, she moved on to Brandilyn & Amberly Collins' YA suspense series. After that, she read a few Amish books and now is in the middle of So Not Happening, the first in the Charmed Life series by Jenny B. Jones.

The point is, the girl can't turn pages fast enough. She loves to read! And this, of course, makes for one proud mama. I am thrilled at her love for reading and my smile gets bigger with every book she finishes.

She reminds me of myself when I was her age. The Bobbsey Twins, Ramona the Pest, The entire series of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and Little House on the Prairie. As a teenager, I couldn't get enough of the John Benton series (anyone remember those?).

Years ago, as a young wife and mom, I hungrily awaited every book in Sue Grafton's Alphabet mysteries. I read Sidney Sheldon, Mary Higgins Clark, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Patricia Cornwell. I then moved on to Christian fiction. Mindy Starns Clark, Terri Blackstock, Linda Hall, and Jerry B. Jenkins. I could spend hours reading and not come up for air.

Well, somewhere along the way, I lost my complete and utter enthusiasm for reading. Go ahead...get the gasp out of your system.

Don't get me wrong, I still love to read (as a writer, I'd better!) and I almost always have a book or two going at any given time, either to review or for enjoyment, but I just don't have that same passion I used to. I believe there are three reasons for this.

1. Time and energy. Okay, that's two. But time and energy just go together for me. Way back when, I had much more time to invest in curling up on the couch with a good book. Kids, work, and housework tend to sop up much of my time and energy. When I do get "free time," my brain has a hard time disconnecting from my busyness and relaxing long or thoroughly enough to get lost in a book. Which leads me to...

2. Workaholic Tendencies. My husband and kids will tell you that I am pretty much chained to my laptop. This is something I'm working on changing, but as a work-at-home freelancer, my brain is constantly thinking about what I should be doing. There are always emails to answer, articles to post, research to do, newsletters to write, and manuscripts to edit. If I let too much time elapse in between, do you realize how much time it will then take me to "catch up?" In my mind, it's best to keep up on everything so I'm not drowning later. And reading distracts me from my task. Which leads me to...

3. I'm a writer.
You may be saying, "Uh...that should make you want to read more." Well, yes and no. Since really immersing myself in this writing business several years ago, I've found that I tend to read with a too-critical eye. I more easily catch mistakes, am tsk-tsking authors for "breaking the rules"(a great topic being discussed on the ACFW loop right now that I'll save for another day), and yes, even entertain ways the author could have made the story "better." In other words, again, I can't separate my writer brain from my reader brain and have trouble reading for pure enjoyment.

Of course there have been plenty of books I've enjoyed recently, including Sharlene MacLaren's The Long Journey Home, which I'm giving away HERE. But I want to rediscover my pure passion for reading. The same enthusiasm my daughter has when she races home from school to read the next chapter of her book. The passion I had years ago that made me include twenty books on my Christmas list - above a bike or the latest technical toy. I think the first step is figuring out how to sweep out the brain clutter long enough to get lost in the story.

Any tips?

Also...I'd love to know what book(s) you've read that you woke up thinking about or skipped an appointment for or picked up at stoplights because you had to know what happened next?


Andrea said...

Blessings and prayers,

PatriciaW said...

I find that my reading is a function of what's going on in my life -- how much energy I have to devote to it. At times, it is my escape from all that is happening, at times, simply pleasure. But there are also times when I hit a wall, when I just don't have enough energy even for reading. That's a bad place for me, and one I thankfully don't go to often. Rather, usually I'll find myself gravitate towards certain types of books as life ebbs and flows.

The writer thing used to get to me but now, not so much, unless a book is really poorly written, which is rare for the books I read.

LauraLee Shaw said...

I've recently enjoyed reading more too. Sometimes for me, it zaps my inspiration. Other times, it sparks it. Right now, I just need to take in good, clean stuff that keeps my mind on the right things. Picking up a book is a great way for me to do that.

Pam said...

I've always been an insatiable reader too -- from first grade, I remember listing my favorite hobby as reading. A lot of the books you mentioned and more. Then came college and excessive assignments (sometimes having to read 3 huge novels and other books in one week). When I graduated, I was burned out and didn't want to pick up ANY book -- I was horrified by this change on the one hand, but guess I needed a break. Just brain overload. But it only took a short two years and I was back on the "can't get enough to read" kick, and even expanded into loving books I never got much into before, like biographies and historical fiction. Sounds like maybe you just need a little time to relax (I know, how?) Maybe some light and fun reading that you can do in snatches. Have you read the Mitford books by Jan Karon? Her style allows for only reading a few pages at a time if you want to...and not hard to pickup again with all the characters. Currently I've been reading Colleen Coble's series set in the UP (Rock Harbor?). I, too, find some flaws and have even figured out the villain ahead, but they are captivating and very well written. When I saw Terri Blackstock the other night at Baker, she made me want to read hers -- haven't tried her before, but she does sound more serious. I love others you mentioned, like Linda Hall. Also Cindy Martinuson, Linda Nichols and some others... I'll have to check some of those series you mentioned for my friend's daughter who is your daughter's age. She can't get enough of books either. A wonderful "malady" if I do say so!