Reading hits just the right spot

Published 12:00 pm Friday, April 2, 2021

Reading for pleasure is just that. Pleasure, when used as an adjective, by definition, means that the activity is intended to be used for entertainment rather than business. I read a considerable amount of material associated with my professional life.

In no way do I consider that time spent reading to be painful or a chore. The time is generally productive, clearly necessary, and definitely not unpleasant. It is just that someone else, or something else, is driving the train. If I don’t read the assignment, I don’t know the specifications or expectations of the project.  An unpleasant result is likely from any lack of effort or attention to detail.

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I don’t want to be held accountable for what I choose to read in my free time. There are so many pastimes from which I could choose when deciding that I have free time to fill.

There is gardening and yard work; the two are not exactly the same. There is always the pile of projects in the sewing room. Some are creative, some are not. I do hate to mend. There is the thrifty side of me which some among my children might call a silly waste of energy.  I would have been a terrible mom during the depression when every shred of anything was salvaged from tatters out of necessity. To me, the idea of turning a collar on a shirt is just stomach turning. After spending all that time to pick each tiny stitch out of the collar seam(s), folding the fabric inside out and restitching, the result is just the same old shirt.

Oddly, I don’t consider renovating or refurbishing a piece of furniture or an architectural piece as a waste of time. It gives me great satisfaction to reconfigure an old beaten-up door into an outdoor storage box for the patio cushions. You can even use the door knob as the box lid handle! It’s just a bit off-center, but does what it is supposed to do. Flea Market Flip is my current TV binge much to my husband’s distress.

Choosing my subjects for literary free time has been easy over the past year. I have shelves of books and friends willing to loan books. BP (Before Pandemic), I needed to exert a bit of censorship in my selections. It was entirely possible that a single book could sit on the bedside table for months as I plowed along through just a few pages at a sitting. Challenging topics, dense copy, multiple footnotes, and many pages set me often struggling to remember what was going on in the story.   

I decided at the outset of the year to make a running list of the books I would read. I reported earlier that my selections were entirely non-fiction, heavy on European mid-20th Century history, and biographies. A couple of the selections were so heavy, as in poundage, I developed wrist cramps holding them at reading height.

Some of my acquaintances could crank out a book a week. I am a slow reader. While it would seem that I should have had plenty time DP (During Pandemic) to pick up the pace, there were so many distractions on multiple fronts; refer to above discussion of refurbishing and related binge TV watching.

Right about the time that I was registering for covid vaccines wherever seemed reasonable, I launched into my 12th book of the year. It was 10 months in on the book list. Up to this point, I had made really good decisions. Each book hit me at just the right time for mental exercise necessary and emotional energy required.

During one very long day in a hospital waiting room, I was working on a little number that was a laugh out loud trip through the evolution of language. I meant no disrespect for the gravity of other fellow waiters’ situations, but I needed that book that day. I had situated myself in a remote corner of the enormous room which was not crowded due to P (Pandemic) visiting restrictions. I caused little stir with my outbursts of laughter. I suppose others recognized to each her own under the circumstances.

With that 12th book I hit a wall. The book was by one of my favorite authors; it was the third by him DP. He has a gift for making history genuinely readable, though he puts the footnotes in the back of the book, a practice which annoys me. If a footnote is needed to impart more than the source of the reference cited, you had better move it up to the appropriate page.

I am half way through the book. I successfully saw Thomas Jefferson through the election of 1800 – 1801 and I am done with him for the time being. The thought of journeying through his final quarter century just isn’t where I want to be right now.

I am not a literary snob. TJ will still be the third president if I muddle through it now or start in on a piece about a too early mid-life crisis journey through the American back roads of the 1980’s.