What have you been reading lately? Have you discovered any new-to-you favorite books or authors? Rediscovered some old favorites that you hadn’t read in years? Have you binge-read any new book series while you were staying at home? Feel free to comment or post with what you’ve been reading lately – you know we like to talk about books!
I had some preconceived ideas how staying at home would look like: I would get up and go to work like always; do household chores like always; and then, since my evenings wouldn’t be full of meetings and friend visits and whatever else happened to fill up so many of my week nights, I would read. Maybe binge-watch some Netflix or Prime series on the weekends. Maybe start writing again. (Notice how “clean out all of the clutter in my house” didn’t even make that list…)
Oddly, almost none of that (except going to work) happened. Even though my day to day life didn’t change that much, I was so distracted that I didn’t do household chores like always (and then I would scramble to catch up on laundry or dishes…usually *just* before we ran out of clean clothes or clean spoons… not every time, but most of the time). And instead of binge-watching or reading an excessive amount (some would say “an even more excessive amount”) of books…I didn’t read any.
I lost my ability to read. Not actually the ability to read words, of course, but I found myself reading a page over and over again, not absorbing anything I was reading, or sometimes just thinking the book was a waste of time (side note: books are *never* a waste of time). I went from being a person who read every single day, reading multiple books per week, to not having picked up or read a single book for over a month. And for a while I didn’t miss it. Heck, didn’t even think about how odd it was that I hadn’t read anything.
At first – I was consumed with watching the news and worrying about what was going on in the world, so it seemed kind of normal that I wasn’t reading. But as time went on and I just couldn’t bring myself to read, it became kind of troubling. I am a reader – that’s one of the words I use to describe myself. How was I suddenly a non-reader? And more importantly, why?
Megan Devine wrote a book titled “Refuge in Grief”, and in it she writes:
“Grief obliterates just about everyone’s ability to read, comprehend and sustain attention. No matter how much of a book person you were before your loss, your capacity to read has most likely been impacted by grief. If you’re grieving this secondary loss of your reading ability, know that, in most cases it is transitory. It just takes longer than you might think to regain (or rebuild) your reader’s mind.”
I saw that quote a couple of weeks ago, and wow, it made so much sense to me about what I was going through. I was definitely (& am still) grieving the world; the thousands and thousands of deaths, as well as the way of life we all assumed was “our” way of life. It all changed in a couple of weeks – radically, irrevocably, abruptly.
And I’m happy to report that for me the loss of my ability to read was transitory. I’ve started reading again – just “light” summer reads for now, although I do have one of Sue Monk Kidd’s newer books, “The Book of Longings” in my e-book queue. I’m hoping to start that in the next couple of days.
Grief affects us all differently, of course. I’ve grieved the loss of loved ones before, like everyone else has, and I never stopped reading. For some reason this time was different. So if you’ve noticed a shift in any of your behaviors or thoughts, likes or dislikes in the last few months, perhaps it’s just how grief is manifesting itself. I think our best hope is to acknowledge it, do what is safe and healthy for all of us, and perhaps things will shift again.