I’ve always said and thought that I can read anytime, anywhere. Traveling? Of course, that’s a perfect time to get some big chunks of reading done (or listen to audio books if I’m the one driving). Family get-togethers? Perhaps it’s sad to admit it, but yes, I usually bring a book, and can sometimes be found curled up in a corner reading a chapter or two (or seven). I figure if others can disappear into another room to watch football or a movie, I can read a book.
I even read while in labor, which apparently was an unusual thing to do, based on the reaction of my doula and nurses. All that is to say that it is very, very rare for me to go any length of time without reading.
See, as I already mentioned in my December Recap post, my brother died shortly before Christmas. He had leukemia, so it wasn’t a complete surprise, but he died a little less than six months after diagnosis, so the speed of the cancer’s toll on his body surprised me. In addition, I’d seen him only two weeks before, and while he was clearly sick, he didn’t at all appear to be basically days away from death. At the end, things moved very very quickly.
All of that is a very convoluted and sad way to say that recent events have proven to me that I can’t always read anywhere, at any time. I’ve regularly struggled to feel engaged by what I’m reading – is it the books I’ve selected? Or is it just me? I’ve zoned out in front of the TV way more than I ever do. I’ve sat in a daze, staring at nothing.
It hasn’t helped matters that, and this is no joke, the very first book I picked up after my brother’s death? It included the death of the protagonist’s brother. One of the very next books I read (or tried to read)? It also included the death of the protagonist’s brother. Seriously?? I don’t think I’ve read a book all year – certainly not since learning my brother’s diagnosis in late June – where a main character’s brother dies, and immediately after my brother dies I end up reading two of them?
Doing some searching for books on grief and reading led me to the book Surviving the Death of a Sibling, which I’ve just gotten from the library and have managed to read the first chapter, crying my way through it. It also lead me to the very intriguing Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading. I just got it from the library last week and finally started reading it over the weekend. The premise is that the author read a book a day (and posted a review each day) as a way to come to terms with her grief over the loss of her older sister to cancer. Hmmm, wonder why on earth I’m so eager to read it…
It’s got me wondering, have there been times that you haven’t been able to read? Or that you’ve had to avoid certain types of books? I’m doing my best to avoid any books filled with grief or heartbreak right now; I’ve got plenty of that in the real world.
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