At this moment I am on a flight home after a week of taking care of my mom after a major surgery. I did a lot of reading while I was with mom. I read quite a few really great books and fed a piece of my soul that has been neglected for some time.
I used to be a voracious reader. My bedside table was a veritable buffet of books – you can only imagine what a relief to the clutter of my bedroom the advent of the Kindle was.
Before we moved from Denver to Los Angeles a year and a half ago I was a member of book club that formed in the aftermath of an incredible Indian meal served at one of my sorority sister’s homes. We were a group of Vanderbilt friends that enjoyed discussing and debating. We were young and fancied ourselves intelligent and I think we were a bit panicked that in the chaos of “real life” we might lose this passionate and vocal side of ourselves.
We began right away with a list of books that fulfilled every category imaginable. Books we’d read but thought were worth exploring as a group, books that were recommended by someone outside the group, and mostly we chose books that would challenge us.
Each January we developed a carefully crafted reading list for the year. We came together as a group to discuss and propose what we’d like on the book. Our lists were diverse including classics, contemporary, biography, non-fiction and otherwise challenging literature. In the early days the focus was to stay away from the trashy mindless summer beach read. (Exactly the type of book that I tend to be drawn to now when I have the time to be numb and indulgent)
This group was pretty amazing. Over the period of 15 years or so that I was a part of the group we evolved in so many ways but the quality of literature we chose remained. In time marriage, children, and career demands changed the frequency, location and depth of our meetings. Three-hour discussions over a meal became a later evening discussion over wine and eventually were reduced to an hour at an eclectic coffee shop on Pearl Street. We went from monthly gatherings to bi-monthly meetings where we were reading and discussion two books at once. We lightened up a little and paired books so that we read one “serious” or more challenging read and one more “Oprah-ish” read but we were still very purposeful in our choices.
I miss my book club and I really miss reading!
We always tell our kids that reading is a gateway to great things. Reading great books fosters imagination and creativity. Reading feeds vocabulary and grammar (if well edited!) and nourishes a part of your soul that is hard to reach by any other means.
I have let the chaos of daily life make me believe that I don’t have time to read the same way that I used to but while it may not be possible for me to curl up for hours on end indulging in a good book or to stay up late devouring words I think I need to make a purposeful effort to allow myself time to read. I may not be a kid anymore but for all of the same reasons I encourage my own kids to read, I will allow myself this necessary indulgence!
Where to start? What great books can you recommend?