I was great in January and February. I fell off the wagon in March and April. I picked myself back up in early May and promptly fell back down. New Year’s resolutions? Dieting? Exercising?
No, I’m on a quest to read more books.
Like most people, I’m attached at my wrist to my cellphone. I’m constantly playing with social media apps and looking things up on Google. I’m worse than Pavlov’s dog. My phone beeps, lights up, or vibrates and I have to check my phone. Books? It’s definitely not the same, in fact, it’s much less so.
I used to love reading. I used to love books because of the places they could take me. I may have been poor, but I could still get a ticket to see a game at Fenway Park in Boston to watch the Red Sox or to old Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. I could set sail on the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria with Columbus and explore the New World. I could fly to the moon with the Astronauts. Or I could simply stay closer to home and solve some murder mystery or nefarious spy attempt.
When I’m reading consistently, I’m a better writer. My creative juices flow more freely. I’m open to new ideas and willing to try new things. No surprise, I’m more creative at work and carry myself with more confidence. The content doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be a business tomb or even classic literature, just something a step or two above the crap that you might find on social media.
Instead, I find lately that I watch more television. Now I admit the television choices are better than they ever have been in my life, but I still would like to broaden my interests beyond The Game of Thrones, Westworld, and all the other fare the big broadcasters would like to shove down my throat.
In any event, I seem to lose time and I made it a goal this year to change.
The battle of all battles
I challenged my wife and daughter to a reading competition. The two of them are quick readers and breeze through a book a day. Okay, my daughter might have taken an extra day or two when she whizzed through Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Miserables, which comes in at a mere 1,400 pages, but I doubt it. In contrast, I’m a slower reader. It takes me more days, weeks even, to get through even the breeziest of one of John Grisham’s best selling beach reads. I walk a slow march to the finish line, but I figured the best thing I could do was to put the challenge out there and rise up to meet it.
We would tally each month’s books and you would get a point per hundred pages, so that the book length mattered less than the actual process of reading. I started out strong. I held my own in January. I ever managed to win in February. I chalk that one up to mid-term exams for my daughter and a busy work load for my wife. My youngest son jumped into the competition too, but fortunately he got caught up in the Fortnite game craze.
So I managed to win one month, but I haven’t won since.
Picking the wrong books
I think part of my problem is the books I read. I often will pull out a literary classic. You know what I’m talking about, the behemoths, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Mark Twain. I could go on and on. I’ll pull one of these books from the library and they’ll sit nicely on my desk. And there they’ll sit and sit until it’s time to hand them back in.
I’ll get frustrated and go the other direction and instead read Nicholas Sparks or James Patterson, you know the type of book I’m talking about, a quick, easy read. I’ve had more luck here, but inevitably I’ll find something more interesting on my phone or tablet.
Going back to what I know
I’ve never really had a favorite author, just a lengthy list of authors who I like to come back to every couple of years. The list includes Pat Conroy, J.K. Rowling, Harper Lee, Mitch Albom, Tom Wolfe, Alice Walker, J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, David Baldacci, Agatha Christie, and Ernest Hemingway. Yes, a pretty diverse group, but it sort of represents my reading interests.
I’ve reread J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series several times in recent years. I usually get turned off by young adult books, but I loved how she managed to turn Harry into a character that we all could relate to and imagine in our heads.
Most series though fail to keep my interest.With that series out of the way, I’m search of a new series or author that will keep my interest. In short, I’m in search of an author who will bring back the love of reading and who will spring board me past my wife and daughter.
We’re talking bragging rights here. I need to get moving, err, scratch that, I need to get reading!
Help, any suggestions? Any favorite authors or books?
I’ve been similarly trying to read more. Some of my recent favorites in no particular order:
“News of the World,” Paulette Giles
“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” David Grann
“Golden Hill,” Francis Spufford
“The Shepherd’s Life,” James Rebanks
“Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon,” Larry Tye
Let me know if any of these catch your attention!
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Okay now you got me interested. I read the intro to News of the World and now I need to know how it ends. Killers of the Flower Moon looks different too. Just what I need. Thanks for the suggestions!