Reading, (non)Resolutions, and Hypercritical Gremlins

“When you are stuck in a spiral, to change the aspects of the spin you only need to change one thing.”
Christina Baldwin

 

Here we are, first workday of the new year, and I’m still not sure what I’m doing. Yesterday, Housemate and I took a two hour road trip to visit friends who host an annual New Year’s book swap. It’s been my favorite holiday gathering for years, and this time was no exception. Several hours of talk with old friends and new, copious amounts of food, and an eclectic assortment of books free for the taking.

I came away with a hardcover copy of  The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Picoult, which I highly recommend. Her voice, her unusual structure of this story, the imagery, use of time and perspective and :fangirl flail: I’ve read it before, after I saw the TV movie, which I found by accident, and want to read it again, in its time, at my leisure, possibly with sticky notes and highlighter in hand so that I can study and rip it apart and put it back together and take something of it into myself on a deeper level than before. I also got two cookbooks for Real Life Romance Hero, of which I know nothing other than that they are cookbooks.

New Year’s resolutions are not my thing; easily made, easily set too high, easily disappointed and left by the wayside, so I’m not going to do that, but I am paying attention to what I do and don’t like about life in general, and the writing life in particular. My two guiding phrases, Clean Sweep and More Layers, come into play here. According to Goodreads, there have been several instances over the past year when I have technically been “reading” one book or another, over a period of several months, when that isn’t exactly what happened.

What really happens is this: I start a book, with all the best intentions. I want to discover this new voice, dive deep into a favorite author’s latest, finally get around to reading a book I’ve had forever. Then the book or reading device ends up in the wrong purse, or in the bedroom when I’m not, or the battery runs down, or I left it at home, etc, etc. I need to read something by date X to write about it for one blog or another. There’s recapping to do. There are domestic tornadoes. I’m too bloody tired. I feel guilty. I feel angry. I don’t deserve to read if I’m such a horrible reader. If I’m that horrible a reader, I’m an even worse writer.

Oh, hello,  Hypercritical Gremlins.

HI, ANNA! CRAPPY NEW YEAR!

That’s Happy New Year.

NOT FOR US.

Why am I not surprised about that?

IT’S WHAT WE DO.

To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?

TRADITIONAL NEW YEAR VISIT.

Oh, okay. That makes sense. Anything specific you wanted to talk about?

READING. YOU BROUGHT IT UP FIRST.

What about reading? (As if I didn’t know?)

YOU STINK AT THAT, TOO.

Uh huh. Do you have any critiera about that?

YOU ALREADY SAID.  CAN WE  TAKE A SCREENSHOT OF YOUR CURRENTLY READING GOODREADS PAGE?

:blushes: No.

HA HA! BUSTED!

Okay, look, we’re not going there.

MAYBE YOU’RE NOT.

Fine. Reading is one of the things I want to change about this year, and both Clean Sweep and More Layers play into that.

WHAT ABOUT THE BOOKS YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO READ? YOU’RE SO FAR BEHIND IN THE BOOKS EVERYBODY IS TALKING ABOUT THAT WE SET ASIDE SPECIAL TIME EVERY WEEK TO POINT AND LAUGH AT YOU.

:shrugs: Well, I guess you can. It’s your time. First, it’s not possible for me to read all the books other people think I should read. Second, I don’t want to; there are enough books I want to read that I couldn’t fit the should-reads into my schedule. The average female lifespan is only so long. Okay, I don’t smoke or drink, stay reasonably active, but my genetic history is a giant question mark, so I am going to use my time wisely and read the books that appeal to me, when they appeal to  me. Reading for pleasure is something I do to feel happy, not guilty. That would take away too much of the pleasure.

BUT YOU’RE MISSING OUT ON ALL THE TRENDS THAT WAY. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY SERIES YOU WOULD HAVE TO READ DOUBLE DIGITS WORTH OF BOOKS TO KEEP CURRENT? NOT TO MENTION SPINOFFS AND SUBSERIES?

If I want to read those books, I will. My natural inclination is for standalone stories, and always has been, so that’s what I’m mostly seeking out at present.

BUT EVERYBODY ELSE LOVES SERIES, BECAUSE THEY ARE SERIES.

How wonderful for them. They must have a lot of books from which to choose. Sometimes, including right now, I want to read one story, about one couple. Nothing at all wrong with that.

EXCEPT THAT YOU ARE WEIRD. REMEMBER HOW IT WAS YESTERDAY WITH ALL THE SMILING AND NODDING -SERIOUSLY, YOU LOOKED LIKE A BOBBLEHEAD- WHEN OTHER GUESTS TALKED ABOUT THE MAINSTREAM AND/OR LITERARY BESTSELLERS THEY WERE ALL  READING. ALL OF THEM BUT YOU, OUTLIER.

I hear you saying “outlier” like it’s a bad thing.

BECAUSE IT IS.

Interesting perspective. Can you tell me more about that?

WE’RE REALLY BUSY RIGHT NOW.

Doing what?

PICKING ON YOU.

Why am I not surprised there? No, no, don’t answer. That was rhetorical. What I’m getting at here is that it’s not possible for one person to read every book there is, so best to whittle it down to those that catch the individual reader’s interest. Anything else feels too much like a school assignment. Last time I checked, you guys are not my teachers.

OBVIOUSLY, WE CAN’T TEACH YOU HOW TO READ LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

I don’t want to read like everybody else, and if you insist on pressing the matter, I am an RWA member. I can whip out statistics on exactly how many romance novels were read last year.

WE’RE GOING TO GO BACK IN OUR CLOSET AND TAKE A NAP NOW. WE HEARD YOU’RE MEETING WITH A LOCAL WRITER FRIEND TOMORROW. GOT TO GET OUR REST, YOU KNOW.

Unfortunately, I do. You guys go rest, and I’m sure I’ll hear from you later. For now, I have some writing to do, and then the last few chapters of a delicious historical romance I would actually classify as women’s fiction, but that’s another story. Pun intended.

 

 

 

 

 

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