Friday, November 25, 2016

When Reading Hits a Winter Season

When I passed my 30 book goal for 2016, I thought I would maybe make it to 50. It would be a tough stretch, but not an impossible go. And even if I made it into the mid-forties, that would still be respectable.

Now, at the end of November, I'm sitting stuck at 33. 50 just isn't going to happen this year. 40 probably won't either. I probably won't mind by the time next March rolls around. But what irks me most is the inability to finish anything. Finding a book that's quiet without being boring is challenging, and continuing a book for any length of time is almost impossible. Quiet is somewhat of a necessity right now for an over-taxed brain after an over-taxing year.

So I don't finish anything. And while that's not much to mark on Goodreads, I have been taking in stories this month. It's just been in a much, much slower way than I anticipated, and in very different forms. Perhaps reading is in hibernation mode right now--having it's winter day.

Earlier this month I picked up the Wingfeather Saga book 2 (North or be Eaten), and while it was too emotionally taxing to finish, it moved me to the depths of my soul, and I can't wait to read it properly.  It has grace and battles, temptation and joy and defeat and rebirth in a wondrous tale. I haven't been that moved in a long time. I'm also really enjoying Tracy Groot's Maggie Bright, a WW2 novel with phenomenally good writing. It's got more language than I care for, but I might finish it this week and give it a review.

In the afternoons we're reading A Girl of the Limberlost together. This story needs to be on every adult girl's reading list. I'm firmly convinced that Gene Stratton Porter has it right in the way she navigates tough relationships between parents and children. Her children don't become rebels or doormats. They maintain a healthy, respectful autonomy that girls struggling with being rebels or doormats need to read about and imitate.

On a recent road trip, I also picked up Wives and Daughters--how fascinating to realize that Doctor Gibson had an elusive first sweetheart named Jeannie. Who was Jeannie? And was Gibson someone's illegitimate son, or was that all the imagination of a town who didn't have any fact to go on? I wish I could know. Wives and Daughters is a perfect tranquil, interesting story to read if you're in need of something soothing.

Last week we went to the National Bible Bee in San Antonio, Texas. In between events, we hosted a couple of dear friends in our hotel room to watch episode 7 of Star Wars again. It was so fun--we had popcorn and hot chocolate and giggled and gasped over everything. I saw a detail I had never seen before--critiqued a couple of parts in my own mind I would have done better--and adored BB8 as per usual.

(Which makes me think, I need a writing cottage somewhere tucked away in England with BB8 and a bearded dragon for company. I would exchange the cat for BB8 if I had the option.)

Also on our trip, since I don't have any competitive responsibilities (being Too Old and having Never Done Bible Bee) I brought Little Dorrit, because nothing helps you knock out a 7 hour mini-series like a 10 day road trip. When we got home, the family wanted to see it too, so I'm watching the tail end by myself in between watching the beginning episodes with them. I can't say anything about this story because my family is currently watching it for the first time (DO NOT SPOIL ANYTHING IN THE COMMENTS). But it's super fun to see them all enjoying it--and spending Thanksgiving evening with Dickens was the best.thing.ever. If you want a content warning guide, jot me a line at ladybibliophileblog[at]gmail[dot]com, and I'll send it to you. The review includes violence, language count, and a list of exact timings to avoid nude statuary if you so prefer.

Side note: I know you don't want to become a movie junkie, but sometimes movies are easier to watch, and if stories are a love language for you, then ditch the guilt and watch the movie instead of reading. It's only temporary, and it's worth it.

Last night I pulled out the Little Dorrit book after we finished episode 6, and flipped through some of the pages. There were minor character names I didn't remember anymore--characters that they cut out of the movie because there are so many. I didn't remember that Pet had a twin sister that died, and that was why the Meagles loved and spoiled her so much. But it was fun to hold the book in my hands, with that sense of pride--that I had read all those pages, and it was a bibliophile trophy on my shelf.

There are more trophies to come. They may not be 800 page ones right now, but that's OK. There is a season for everything. Sometimes it's not a book I pull out--but a scene. Just before we took a trip, I pulled out Light of the Last by Chuck Black and read one of my favorite dramatic chapters. Sometimes it's a poem. A blog post. A psalm.

So if you're finding it hard to read anything, we're in this together. Read what you can, when you can. It will come back. I promise. And maybe even sooner than you think.


  1. Oh my word Schuyler this is exactly what I needed to read. Just yesterday I was struggling with the fact that my reading and writing life hasn't been going well at all -- I haven't even been able to focus on books for school, and I have a couple others just sitting on my bedstand untouched, and it's been pretty bad for me. So thank you for posting this just when I needed it. <3 And you're right, there's other ways to consume stories. My mom and I watched Prince Caspian yesterday, and it's a lot more complex than I remembered it being.

    Also it was fun to read about what books and movies you've been up to lately. It was so good to see you again at Nats and spend time together. <3

  2. I love this! I'm finally getting back into reading these last few days after having and month, maybe a month and a half, of struggling to read anything. But during that time, I did watch a good amount of tv show episodes. It was easier to do that than to read.

  3. Love this post. Had a winter season in reading earlier this year, but it's been going well currently. Just wish I had more time to read. It's harder to find time now. But it's all good. I'm loving the books. Hoping you take the time to rest and enjoy other things while you wait for reading to pick up again! Enjoy the moments. :)

  4. I relate to this post on many levels, Schuyler, because as soon as I finished my exams I expected I'd be enjoying and finishing a ton of books fast like I always do, but since the 11th I've been reading only one book really (and really enjoying it) but I haven't finished that yet, and I just feel quite emotionally taxed, it's hard to "click" with any special book. Like you I won't be able to meet my modified Goodreads challenge of 40 books, much less the 50 I was able to manage last year. But you're so right, sometimes one should let it rest and really let reading be not so much a struggle of achievement and learning than more of a comfort and soothing place of quietness in a busy life. No need to stress about completing these huge tomes - some days are for the small, quiet moments, the rereading of special passages, or the dipping in an-out-of special books that touch the heart and soul. Also films, in moderation, can be such a wonderful medium of story-enrichment. I've the last few months been loving some tv show episodes and a few films, like ITV's Victoria and BBC's Merlin, as well as The Crown - they've been quite special!

    Oooh, I want to rewatch Little Dorrit!! I'm beating myself up a little bit for having binge-watched just about ALL the Dickens adaptions last year, which makes me so sad that there aren't too many left. I still haven't seen Great Expectations so I'll have to watch that sometime, but definitely Little Dorrit is a favourite. Have you watched Our Mutual Friend? I enjoyed that one a lot!

    Enjoy this time of soul-reading and enjoy the moments too =).
    Lots of love!

  5. So I know I'm kinda missing the point of this post (and it is a good one!) by saying this BUT, you really should finish the Wingfeather Saga : D No pressure or anything. JUST DO IT SOON ; )

  6. I totally get what you mean about reading in the winter. I'm awful when it comes to books.
    And an English writing cottage with BB8 and a bearded dragon!! That sounds so wonderful!!


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