Discovering Hidden Gems from a Restless Reader

Discovering Hidden Gems

It’s no secret that I have a ridiculous book collection. I am not alone in this as I encounter people all the time who have tons of books.

I am also not alone in the fact that my “to be read” pile is much larger than my “already read” pile. In fact, at any given time I have half a dozen or more books that I have begun and put down for whatever reason.

At this time, I must own that I am a restless reader – meaning I can be reading anything at any time before flitting to something else depending on my mood or interest.

One thing all of these books that I’ve hardly begun have in common is there is often a book mark that tells me where I stopped.

Book marks I’ve discovered when I’ve gone back to read:

  • The Dog Ear – that folded corner forever marking my journey through the book.
  • The Beautifully illustrated bookmarks – these are those pretty ones that can be found nearly everywhere and often include some kind of tassel. The tassel makes reading difficult because Pippa loves to play with things that dangle. One of my favorites is one, perhaps a bit less illustrated than most, I picked up in Paris several years ago. Every time I look at it, I remember the vacation.
  • The Ribbon guides – these are often found in journals and, again, mark where I left off.
  • The Whatever bookmark – I’ve used nearly everything I could get my hands on including facial tissues, receipts – sometimes from the purchase of the book but more often not, other books. Nothing is safe when it comes to marking my place

New Discoveries:

Recently I’ve discovered, or perhaps rediscovered, something new as I’ve gone back to a book I’d previously started.

Often, in my reading and writing, I will write down words, quote’s or thoughts on random pieces of paper, most often index cards. And, I will stick these cards just about anywhere, seldom all together¬†as I tend to be a restless reader. Most often these index cards are purple as I seldom can resist anything in that color. These words I write are generally from a book or article I am reading and want to remember.

And, I have no system for these cards, no rhyme or reason for the words on the cards, and I stick them everywhere.

Recently I pulled a book off my bookshelf and began reading. The book was one I’d opened previously and never finished. Books, especially non-fiction, have a sense of timing. Simply put, I am not ready for the message of a particular book, and I move on to something else.

While not advocating this method of restless reading, I have found a few benefits:

  • You can gain information quickly.
    • A drawback to this one is that you cannot go deep into information with this method.
  • There is always something to read
  • Coming back to a book is like coming back to an old friend who waits patiently for you to settle down.

A Needed Message

As I was reading one of these “old friend” books, I found another positive to my restless reading habits:

I found a purple card marking the place where I’d stopped reading.

And, this one had a message: “your heart will always tell you what is working and what is not.

I came across this little gem of a message while reading Simple Abundance written by Sarah Ban Breathnach. These words struck something in me and I wrote it on a  purple index card and somehow it found its way into another book I was reading.

How simple and yet how profound this little gem turned out to be. It was just what I needed to hear in that moment of my life. I don’t even remember writing it down.

I still write these little gems, though more often they are on sticky notes or in one of my many journals. Perhaps I should go back to the index cards. They make great bookmarks, and as my restless reading habits attest, I am liable to find them anywhere.

Who knows what words of wisdom I may need next.



Reading as a Sport

DSC_0282I’ve been reading since before I could remember. My mother tells me that I could read books since I was three. I’m not even sure that it matters anymore. Reading books have been a source of pleasure for my entire life.

Although I love to read, my book consumption tends to rise and fall with my moods. When things are normal, I read at a normal pace. What that means is unless I hold myself back, I won’t put a book down until I’m finished. Well, except for bathroom breaks and snacks, food is important to keep up the energy to read. When I am in reading mode, this is about a book, maybe two a week.

During grad school, I kept books in the bathroom. I felt guilty for reading when I was supposed to be doing homework. But if I had a book in the bathroom, that was okay. Who cares if I spent an hour in there?

My choice of reading material has changed a bit over the years and I still collect all sorts of books. I will even read books over and over. I’m a fast reader so sometimes I have to read them again to make sure I’ve read the whole thing. In speed reading, one tends to skim rather than read for detail.

There is so much pleasure in books.

When life is a struggle, I tend not to read as much. I just can’t sit still and get lost in the story.

Last year, I decided to keep a journal of the books I read and there were months that I didn’t finish a book. It wasn’t a good year for reading.

This year, 2016, began in a difficult way. I’ve struggled to write, work and to live my life the way that I want to. Reading, the thing that gave me so much pleasure in my life, was something I couldn’t do. I wasn’t able to sit still long enough to finish a book or anything.

In my book reading journal, January is blank.

Moving on to February, things have changed. Have I mentioned how much I love to read? Well, It is only the second week of February and I have read seven books, documented in my book journal.

I’ve taken reading to another level.

Reading has taken over my writing time. While reading isn’t a bad thing, not writing can be.

Stephen King said in his book, ‘On Writing’, “Read a lot, write a lot.”

I seem to be bouncing back and forth between the two. Well, maybe not bouncing. More like feast or famine. Either I am reading a lot or not hardly at all.

There has to be a balance.

I would like to be able to pick up a book and read a chapter or two before bed as a way to relax. I would like to savor the story and spend time thinking about what I am consuming. Yeah, nope. That doesn’t happen.

Once I am hooked, I’m not moving until I find out what happens. It is a sprint to the finish line.

Where is the happy medium?

I haven’t written on any of my current projects although I wrote a bit of flash fiction last week that looks promising. There is little else I am working on. I am sticking to my goal, however, of writing 500 words each day. Most of the time, this writing consists either of a journal page of ramblings or a blog post, sometimes both.

DSC_0275Reading is a hobby, and as a hobby, I cannot allow it to overtake my life. I do have other things to do.

But for now, I will read whatever and whenever I can. At least, until I run out of books.

Maybe not even then.

Friday Five: What Are You Reading?

IMG_0792It’s been a while since I’ve shared what I am reading. As usual, I have a pile, perhaps even more than five but I will attempt to keep my list to that number.

  1. Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders by Susanne Alleyn – I’m in the process of doing some research for a novel I will be writing this year, maybe, and this book seemed like a good idea. Although I have just started reading it, I am recommending it for anyone who is considering writing historical fiction.
  2. By Cunning & Craft by Peter Selgin – The subtitle says “sound advice and practical wisdom for fiction writers” and that is exactly what it is. I am hoping it will help to improve my writing.
  3. Allegiant by Veronica Roth – I’ve fallen in love with the Divergent series and this is the last one. This last one was in my order from Amazon last night and I am saving it for this weekend to begin. It most likely will be finished by the time I go back to work on Monday.
  4. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I’ve been reading this for a while. This is a good book although I am struggling to stay in it. I’m not sure if that is simply where my life is right now. A friend recommended it to me and I hope to finish it soon.
  5. Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood by Merlin Stone – Interesting perspective on the history of women.

Well, there you have it. Five books on my reading pile. Some will be finished sooner than others but all have a message for me.

What are you reading right now?