Books will solve the riddles of my life. If I read enough parenting books my kids will behave, if I read enough writing books I’ll have written something, and if I absorb enough fiction I’ll know how to deal with this wild ride called life.
Of course they can do that. These are the lies I tell myself.
And lies they are, because, despite all the books, I’m still slogging through the problems these books should have solved by now.
But I’ve found my stacks of books can still tell me things. Even if I only read the titles. If I line up my current reads with what I want to read next, I can get a little insight about what I’m hoping to find, where I’m feeling discontent or disconnected, or where my current focus is. Shorthand for self-knowledge.
Here’s a telling heap from last April.
This is who I was subconsciously hoping to become.My reason for reading each book is right on the spine. It reads like a to-do list: “Be a good person; Look how married you can be; Get right with diversity; Write more words; Relearn Spanish; Be happy, Be thankful for diapers.” With more or less humor, wisdom, grace, and all the good intentions, of course. The books might be nicer to me than I am.
And this stack from today:
More fiction, Spanish, diversity, motherhood, education, and spiritual studies. More of what I’m pursuing. I love that I can read about the things that interest me and continue learning everyday.
But book knowledge doesn’t automatically translate to real life things. Reading in Spanish doesn’t mean I’m fluent. All the parenting books in the world can’t force me to be more present with my kids (I’d have to actually set down the book!). And while learning about kids’ brains is an excellent side-project it’s not going to make me a better parent or homeschooling mama.
I want to read all the books and have all that information at my fingertips, but I need to make sure my books are catalyst to change not just an escape from problems. I have to embrace all that dreadfully personalized drama sent by heaven to refine my character.
Oh, surely not.
It might mean reading less, but it might mean paying attention to when and why I’m reading. (i.e – is it about escape, am I enjoying it, am I learning something important to my life, who am I ignoring) And also working to be a little more present and less nose-in-a-book with my munchkins.
Because who ever heard of anyone wanting to read less?
But, maybe I do, maybe a teensy-tad less.
How do you feel about your reading? Are you reading too much? Is there such a thing? Do you want to read more? What does your stack of books tell you about your goals in life?
I’d love to hear!
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