When I started reading and blogging, I thought it would be a way to keep my life consistent, even when things all around me were changing. I thought that having some regular activity / task / goal would mean that things weren’t really so different, after all. But what I’m discovering is that things really do change, and that life calls for a lot more adaptation and compromise than we originally planned. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s been hard for me to blog because my life is so different from when I began this challenge. When I started back in January, life was filled to the brim with assignments and classes, activities and friends. Life was busy and scheduled in fifty or eighty-minute increments, and dictated by what was due or what was planned. Today, the rhythm of my life feels nothing like that. My days have their busyness, to be sure (especially for someone with such chronic lateness as me), but they are far less defined by a running, mental to do list than when I was in school. In school, reading and blogging was another thing I could add to my weekly list of tasks, and was certainly one of the more enjoyable and fulfilling ones. But today, while I love reading on the train or elsewhere, sitting in front of my computer at 9:30pm to write after a long day at work and commuting sounds far from relaxing.
While the act of writing and reflecting on reading has become more burdensome than I had imagined, reading has become much more of a pleasure than it was while I was in school. I’m never without a book, simply out of necessity: I spend two hours a day on the train, and so all of this great reading time is built right in. Because of this, I’ve kept up with my reading fairly easily, and my book-a-week goal hasn’t been hanging over my head. I’ve gotten to visit the library more frequently and choose books that I may never have heard of or aren’t genres I’d typically choose. Since I last posted, I’ve read two very different books and am nearly finished with a third.
The first, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, was a fabulously written fictional account of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter in the Bible. It’s not a new book, and even though it had been on my shelf for a while, I’d always put off reading it because it looked far to big to read in a week. Instead, I was sucked in by the story and the culture and the scriptural connections of this book that I ate it up: it was the first book in a while I hadn’t wanted to put down and that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole while. I was reminded yet again while reading this story of the power of fiction, because I can now see the stories and the lives of Jacob, his family, and their relationship to their God more clearly than I ever could imagine from reading Bible stories. Instead of hearing simply a genealogy of names or a set of stories I’ve heard since I was a little kid, I felt like I could hear the voices of these characters and share in their story. Highly recommend it!
The second book I read was a pick from the new books section of the library and is a collection of personal essays by Emily Fox Gordon entitled Book of Days. I’ve not spent much time reading essays, so it was a new experience to read a whole book of them. I’m so used to stories that have a clear beginning, middle, and end, but this book didn’t have that at all. Instead, the essays jumped around to specific points in Gordon’s life, picking specific moments or encounters and focusing in on their intricacies, bringing out the kernel of truth that lay there. After reading the book, I have a great amount of respect for the author, because it takes a great writer to fully develop so many different ideas. However, I don’t know if it’s a genre I would pick again right away. I guess I like to draw conclusions or connections, to end with a moral or point or take-away, and this book didn’t do that at all. But then again, I’m a story person, even if its a true story, and it’s hard for me to hear a number of discrete scenarios without stringing them all together and tying up the loose ends. And even though it wasn’t my favorite, I’m still glad I stretched myself and tried something new.
Right now I’m reading this awesome fiction book called Peony in Love by Lisa See, and it’s not at all what I expected. It’s like a history lesson and a ghost story and a fairy tale, all rolled into one. I’ll be sure to report back with a final verdict :)