how to handle tuesday: a list

have dinner, but not until after 6 pm otherwise it’s too much time between dinner and bedtime which means more time to resist snacking

journal about your life, your day, your hopes dreams fears habits embarrassments

read your books

update your reading app to show how many pages you have progressed in said books

fantasize about the weekend

play a board game with your daughter

give yourself a break from the divorce papers for one night at least

nest in your bed while watching “tiktoks with vine energy” collections on youtube

get high without shame

do half of a yoga video on youtube, stopping because your wrists get sore at the same rate that your shoulders uncoil and tension leaks out

scroll instagram for visual candy but stop before you become discontent or numb

remember to put your phone on charge and turn off the light before you fall asleep at 9:30 pm because you are too relaxed and too tired to keep your eyes open

When to Abandon a Book

For a bibliophile, the number of books I read a year is relatively modest averaging somewhere in the 45-60 bpy (books per year) range. But the number of books I’ve started and abandoned in a year often rival the books I’ve finished. Sometimes by a ratio of 1:3. Many articles about reading more include a bullet point to the effect of stop reading books that don’t work for you. Way ahead of them.

Before the advent of Goodreads I kept a small notebook for listing all of my books-to-be-read. As I watched that list expand and contract over time, it became necessary to abandon books that did not draw me back to them to find out who did it, if the protagonist would recover, if the secrets of life would be found.

Everyone has their own signatures for boredom or dutifulness. I have tried to power through texts that I find boring out of a sense of duty. Maybe it’s considered a masterpiece, or I want to be able to say I’ve read it, or someone I admire spoke well of it. Do not underestimate peer pressure to read books that don’t fit you. Even worse if you regularly talk to the person who recommended it to you.

It is time to abandon the book when…

You have been avoiding reading because you feel like you have to read THAT book first. Avoidance is a pretty good indicator that you don’t like what you are reading, and you don’t find it compelling. It’s also an indicator that the book is a chore or a punishment. If you feel guilty about reading something else instead of the prize winner, the bestseller, or the masterpiece, then pull the bookmark and move on.

Know first who you are and read accordingly, to paraphrase Epictetus. Have you enjoyed any of the five historical fiction novels that your book club has picked? Do you enjoy biographies that run upwards of 500 pages? Do space battles make you yawn? Does magical realism make you roll your eyes? If you answered yes, then don’t try to talk yourself into finishing something you know you already dislike. I highly recommend branching into new genres, trying new authors, new forms, new subjects, but when you know you have an allergic reaction to certain ideas, characters, or tropes, don’t keep trying them.

You are trying to talk yourself into continuing with a book. When you are enjoying a meal or a movie, you don’t have to talk yourself into staying and finishing it. Same with books. Imagine you are at a restaurant that you thought would be good, but you’re in the middle of the meal and just not sure about how the deconstructed Caprese salad tastes. Would you look up the restaurant’s reviews and see what other diners had to say in order to make a decision about your food in medias res? I don’t know you, but probably not. If you aren’t enjoying the book, and the spell is broken enough that you are talking yourself into sticking with it, you are done with that book for now.

To find out what your own book abandonment signs are pay attention to your self-talk, remember your established likes and dislikes, and notice when you avoid reading. You are the final arbiter of your own taste, and no one needs to waste time reading something that isn’t compelling to them.

For every book you quit because it isn’t working for you, you make room for yourself to discover engrossing worlds, riveting characters, and new favorites.

The Book Buffet

For micro-post Wednesday enjoy the reading buffet I set up in my living room. Magazines, library books, an assortment of bookmarks, and an apple cider candle for ambience.

The vacuum cleaner in the background serves as memento mori: someday you must clean.

Notable Reads of 2018: Micro Book Reviews

This list does not include every book that I enjoyed this year, but it includes the ones that I found unique, challenging, and full of good questions.

From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty – When searching for the Good Death, anything beats traditional American death rituals.

The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt – Short stories where everyone has a secret, and that secret is usually that they can turn into an animal.

The Power by Naomi Alderman – If women had the ability to run the world through force, would they run it any better than men?

Vacationland by John Hodgman – It’s E. B. White. He’s talking about E. B. White.

Relief Map by Rosalie Knecht – The police won’t let anyone in the town leave (no phone or electricity) until a fugitive is found.

Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax – A future Japan that mixes questions about immigration, war crimes, fertility, and artificial intelligence exquisitely.

Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht – Is Vera Kelly a spy? Is she in 1950s Argentina? Is she a lesbian? Is she a smart cookie? Yes.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh – It’s a lot harder and also a lot easier than you would expect to sleep through an entire year.

Nothing Good Can Come From This by Kristi Coulter – Drinking keeps women from realizing their full potential, and alcohol is everywhere. Sobriety opens up new avenues.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee – Pain becomes story becomes myth becomes novel.

Severance by Ling Ma – If the fever takes hold of you, you lose yourself, becoming stuck in mindless routines. Hell in an office building.

The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling – Daphne disappears off the grid with her toddler, trying to decide whether or not to join her husband in Turkey.

What were your notable reads for the year? Please share in the comments!

Moratorium

IMG_20181215_150709450I’ve decided to refrain from buying books during Q1 of 2019. And what do you do before the moratorium sets in for January through March? Buy as many books as possible, of course!

Seen here: The Best American Travel Writing 2018 edited by Cheryl Strayed, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, and The Best American Food Writing 2018 edited by Ruth Reichl.

Books purchased at The Tattered Cover on Colfax.

Picture location at Hooked on Colfax.