Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Time for a good book

This morning I had meetings scheduled with perfect-sized gaps in between for getting very specific things done.  So naturally, instead of doing any of them, I filled the gaps with book shopping.

In spite of all the other things going on, I am still trying to read endless books on my phone via Kindle, and still finding that endless boring tasks like checking newly-purchased light fixtures or sorting through a closet are bearable with an audiobook.  However, I've slowed down on those two things, because I found my stack of still-unread New Yorkers recently and have been working through those during mealtime.  You know that old saw, the family that eats together?  Well, in my house, there is no bonding over food.  You have to read during a meal because you're not going to get any conversation.... we converse all of the rest of the time here, news and observations pouring out of us and overlapping in countless interruptions I have given up trying to correct.  Meals have become a time for quiet repose.

As recently as a year ago I used to do this job on Sundays - hunting through Amazon and Audible looking for new books to consume with meals.  I'd spend maybe an hour, usually two, trying to find things that would prop me up or distract me or help me see things in a new way.  That's a pretty broad range of genres and writing styles but it's still hard work to find compelling stories that are well told.

Anyway, as I did it today, I considered the fact that many of my friends would be using this time to upgrade a manicure.  It was exactly that kind of maintenance event - personal upkeep, as I think of it.  I had a friend during my university years who dedicated one or two Friday nights a month to what she dubbed a P.U. night - manicure, facial, sewing buttons back on clothes, stuff like that.  I'd never considered this concept before, actually setting aside time for this sort of task and, in a way, celebrating it.  I've lost touch with this friend but she really had a gift for enjoying the smallest things in life, and I've carried that learning with me ever since, asking myself, What would Anne do?  So when I was looking for books today, naturally I thought of Anne.  What would Anne choose?

Anne would probably have chosen a few more cheery, uplifting books than I seem to have done, but that's kind of the point.  We can aspire to Anne-ness, but we can't all be Anne.  There is just one, and she got the job.

Anne had another lasting impact on me:  once, on my birthday, she gave me a box of cookies and a copy of The New Yorker and said it was time I started reading it regularly.  It was new to me but I saw immediately what she meant and as soon as I could afford it, I set up a regular subscription.  I thank Anne for my New Yorker supply every time I read one, especially when there's a piece on medical breakthroughs or neurology.  Good writing about health is one of my favourite things in life.  NOT something I would have predicted about myself, but true.

Lately I've been using my New Yorkers to gauge how busy I am.  If things are good, I'm finished the current copy within a couple of days of its arrival.  If things are bad, I've got a few issues piled up waiting, and I know I need to scale back on my schedule.  Right now I am starting into a new one with four in the wings.  Things are bad.  I definitely need to scale back.

At the end of my shopping adventures I realized I have now banked over 150 hours of audiobooks.  That's more than seven pairs of socks.  Or 19 days' worth of packing and unpacking.  Or 40 days of cleaning.

Probably I don't need to buy any more audiobooks for a while.

But that's also good news, isn't it?  Because the less time I spend shopping for books, the more time I have to knit!


Su said...

I haven't read North and South, but I did love Cranford, all those wonderful little observations of life. Just don't start Wives and Daughters, 650 pages of unfinished! I could have wept when I got to the 'end' only to discover there wasn't one!

Mary Keenan said...

I saw all the Cranford programs with Judi Dench, and also the North and South miniseries with Richard Armitage (best audiobook narrator EVER) but I haven't read any of Gaskell's novels and I'm quite excited to listen to this version... Again, a fabulous narrator. Bliss!