When my own kids were small, the pace and volume of my reading stayed high. Reading was how I coped with having my spouse away working.
When I was working, I read. A lot. More even than when my kids were little. I had teenagers and a good income. I bought books (many many used books, many new) and I read. I started reading mostly classic novels and literature. Why did these books last so long? Why did they remain teachable or relevant?
And then I found knitting. It didn't slow my reading but it did change the focus of it. From novels to books about fibers and animals and how things were made. From novels to blogs and online reading.
But always reading.
And then Brian had his first knee surgery, and his second. I knit more to hide from those experiences. And then he became ill for the last time and reading's job was to keep my mind filled while he slept or when I was preparing to sleep, or when I wasn't worried about everything to come.
After Brian died, I tried reading but I couldn't settle. I couldn't focus. I had sort of given up on being a capital R Reader. I thought that maybe I had become just a reader, like ordinary folk.
I read a couple books a year. I wafted my way through them here and there, but few things caught my imagination, not even history. Not even re-reading some of my old friends. That helped but mostly, I skipped my way through a lot of things. I worked at it. I tried really hard but I struggled. It felt good, but never quite natural as it used to.
Till this year. I do a thing in January called NaJuReMoNoMo (see item at the bottom of the blog). Last year I didn't even complete one book. I think the most I ever read in all the years was 5 and then did not read another novel for months. This year, I only read 3, but was 3/4 through the 4th when the January unexpectedly ended. I was so immersed in the story I was reading, I had forgotten the days.
This year, instead of putting down the books at the end of the month, I kept reading. I finished reading A Lesson in Secrets. Then I worked my way through a book of short stories by Agatha Christie. Then I started to read a Miss Silver. In between all of this, I finished the first part of the Sphere Illustrated History of Britain (derived from the Oxford Illustrated History of Britain) and am halfway through the second volume. In terms of timeline, I went from pre-history to the Restoration.
And then I watched North and South (not the American one) on Netflix and I decided it was time to read Elizabeth Gaskell's novel of the same name. Because I could and because a nice cheap copy of all her work presented itself, that is what I bought. All her published work. And in the space of just a few days and only reading at bedtime, I am two thirds of the way through North and South.
I am captured in a way I haven't been in years and I am so delighted. I can't wait to sit down and read. I am still knitting a lot and still watching a lot of movies, but each night, I look at the clock and wonder if it is too early to crawl to bed to read. More often than not the answer is no.
I like that. I'm still a READER. It just went missing for a little while.