Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Book Reader, Book Reader - Where Art Thou?


Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
Ovid

In a normal year, I read 1-2 books a week. Always have several books going and placed strategically for an easy grab: beside my bed, my chair, the backseat of my car, my book bag, the kitchen table. Pictured here is my Books To Be Read shelf in my bedroom.

I lie. Those books are just at the back of the shelf. Here's what it really looks like.

Here are the books my friend at 128 Sticks of Butter gave me the other day.
Why these collections are exceedingly abundant right now is the blogpost at hand. I've had a most difficult struggle with reading the past few months. Certainly not due to lack of good material, but, instead, a focus affair. When I sit to read, I find myself repeating the same paragraph again and again. My midlife mind takes junkets to pending tasks and exercise needs, upcoming and current family events. My brain becomes the catalog for all those written lists buried in my House of Unfinished Projects.

The inability to settle on the pages and understand the cadence of a writer's chosen words is most frustrating. How I miss the solace found in a story, traveling to unknown worlds and living the lives of others. My absence of concentration keeps me from seeking those travels.

I do miss the satisfaction that arrives when the last page is turned on a truly good read and the anticipation of going to the shelf to choose a new adventure.

How will I remedy this? As often true, the words I write here have clued me in on what I'm missing. That perhaps the reason everything whirls about my head is because I'm not letting it find calm in other worlds. That vacation can bring health. That burying myself in the binding of a good book is a fine way to settle myself.

Today, during my off period at school, I opened Five Queen's Road by Sorayya Khan, a dear friend. Between the beauty of Sorayya's writing, the quiet of the classroom, and nothing there to remind me of tasks undone, I read. Most lovely. Set the pace for the remainder of the day. Tomorrow, I will reassure myself that this rest is only vital fodder for my future crops.


With this posted, the fallow field is ready. I'm reading a book until bed.

To order Sorayya's book, please find the address here. Her first book, Noor, may be ordered at Amazon.com


29 comments:

  1. There's nothing like getting lost within the pages of a good book. But I sure understand the lack of concentration. I'm glad yours has returned. Happy reading. :)

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  2. I wish you could go away somewhere alone for a week, with only your books and a favorite robe for company. Okay, and some coffee or your favorite beverage.

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  3. I understand that unsettled feeling. Sometimes a good book is the perfect antidote. Curl up and read away the night! (great pile of books, by the way)

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  4. I have been reading the same 6 books for the past 6 months and failing to finish for much the same reasons (that and 4 of them are in French and I need to have my computer on so I can look up unfamiliar words, which happens often). I think I'll log out and crack one open now...

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  5. Most impressed with your pile... have a similar one...nothing like the solace a good book brings. Just finished one... Julian Barnes... quite an odd read, but strangely good. Now off to read some Anne Tyler! x

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  6. You have described what I've been going thru for the past ten years! I used to be able to sit with a book and read it thru in one or two sittings, but now I either can't focus or fall asleep. It's very frustrating and disheartening. I think I'll take a page out of your book and start a new book today (or at least by the weekend, as I have Conner all week. Impossible to read with a four year old boy in the house!)

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  7. For me...I have to feel on top of things, nothing waiting in the wings, so to speak, if I'm going to enjoy escaping into a good book.
    My computer woes, of not being able to access your blog and having to use my husband's has corrected itself, on it's own!

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  8. Oh, goodness. Piles like that get my heart pounding.

    I've got a big TBR pile, too, though they're not organized in one spot like yours. And I've had trouble working through it, too. I think maybe it's the weather. Could it be that for you, too? Do you have winter stuff that won't go away? That's it for me.

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  9. There is nothing better than a good book. I find that I go in waves - devouring stacks of books in a matter of weeks and then not wanting to read at all, only to write.

    Your bookshelf looks a lot like my own ;)

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  10. Lots of choices on that shelf. It is understated how reading is a mindset--I often suffer mind surfing while reading.

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  11. I'm not much a reader...unless it's a good based-on-history novel
    (15th and 16th centuries) but can defintely appreciate the analogy of the fallow field.

    Happy reading, glad the desire returns for you.

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  12. I listen to more books than I read lately. I have stacks of books in my bedroom, which I was told is bad feng shui. I was kinda hoping that through osmosis the knowledge would just filter in!

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  13. Maybe you could take a weekend getaway to unwind and settle the mind? I love reading poolside, of course, it does dip into savings. Or to your cabin?

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  14. I go from doing a lot of reading to a lot of writing. Though I prefer fiction, I force myself to read non-fiction for the concentration necessary and the resulting ah, ah's of understanding.

    When I was working, I could barely read the necessary memos and occasional newspapers.

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  15. I'm right there with you. I've got a 600 page novel to finish reading for my next book club meeting on March 2nd, and I'm only on page 175. I don't know what my problem is other than I need to simply turn off the Olympics, turn off my computer and sit down and get reading!!!

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  16. I have reading "dry spells" like this every so often as well. Sometimes what helps me is to choose a genre that is not my usual fare. It helps shake things up a bit. Glad you seem to have found your groove again.

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  17. You know I join you in that love of getting lost in a book! What a great feeling.

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  18. Wow, are you inside my head, reading my mind? I have been struggling with the same problem. I'm an avid reader and writer (A lit major in college) and have beloved books piled everywhere. But this year I've found myself on "overload" and can't seem to focus. The only books I've been able to tackle and finish are those required of the book clubs I'm in -- and thank goodness for those.

    It occurs to me, as I write this, that part of the problem is that I tend to get overwhelmed when there's way too much to choose from. Magazines, books, blogs .... there's so much to read out there that my eyes glaze over at the thought of keeping up with it all.

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  19. I have missed the time to do this too! Have fun!

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  20. It is a byproduct of substitute teaching. You have to be in a certain place all day, sometimes busy teaching and sometimes actually just managing the room and so when you are set free (which is the way I always felt as I drove away at the end of the day) you don't want to sit yourself down and do something sedentary and you are also tired.

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  21. I know exactly what you mean. I have books that are taking way too long to read. it's not the writing - it's me. Too many thoughts wrestling around in my brain. I'm easily distracted. Ghaaa

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  22. I've had times when I couldn't concentrate on a book for days or even weeks, and it really aggravates me. It's usually because some life issue has disturbed me and taken away one of the things that is most pleasurable to me - reading.
    Fortunately, it doesn't happen often.
    You had me with the "1-2 books per week." I was ready to send my kids to boarding school so that I can do it too. :)
    But, you'll be back to that pace soon.

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  23. Nothing beats getting lost in a good book. From one book lover to another I totally understand and loved this post!!

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  24. I have piles of "books to read" in every room! Someday! Have a great weekend, cher!

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  25. Such an eloquent post. I'm glad you found your concentration. It's hard when you have sparkler brain.

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  26. I've had spaces of reading drought before, too. And sometimes it's a matter of finding something that better fits whatever transition I'm in at the time than what's on my piles.

    The reassuring thing is that the right book always finds its way to me, and it sounds like that's the case for you, too. So glad for the insights you're receiving and for the relief.

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  27. I find myself in reading focus ruts. It's usally connected to what I'm reading. I recently wasted a heckuva lot of precious reading time ploding through a thick boigraphy on Andrew Jackson.
    Then gain, maybe your mind won't let you focus on the reading because there's something you need to write...

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  29. I've had periods when I had trouble concentrating. Fortunately it passes. My problem is that I don't have enough time to read and do everything else I want to do. I read before going to sleep most nights and find I don't remember what I read the next day!

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