Reflecting on reading

Over the past day, I’ve found myself thinking about my relationship with books. There’s a give and take implicit in choosing the word relationship. Books give me windows into other ways of thinking from cyborg Cinderella to a natural history of earthworms through a social history of the Memphis civil rights movement. Those are the books I’ve read parts of today (Cinder, The Earth Moved, and An Unseen Light if you’re interested). My interests are wide ranging; my pace is a frequent cause for comment. In return, I give books an audience. When I choose them, I give their authors’ words life. Without readers, books are bound paper. With readers, they contain multitudes.

Lately, I’ve been on a reading jag. Part of it is because I’m anxious about things that are coming up and reading is a way to occupy the parts of my brain that would otherwise go spinning off in less pleasant directions. Part of it is because I started listening to audiobooks on dog walks. We walk 5 times a week; that’s a lot of time to listen. I also find pleasure in books in a way that I don’t find in my phone. I’d rather read for an hour before bed than spend it on the internet. I sleep better that way.

I read once the kids have gone to bed. I read at work. I read in snatched moments when the kids want to be left alone to devise their own worlds without mommy’s adult brain interfering. I close the book when they ask me to play too. I strive for balance. I never want my drive to read to overwhelm my urge to actively live. I also don’t see those desires as being in conflict.

50 books have come through my life this year. They cross genres and lengths and styles. They’ve brought with them multitudes.

Inch by inch

There’s a song I love by the Okee Dokee Brothers called Walking with Spring. This duo is my favorite kind of kids’ music in that they are talented singer songwriters who write songs without cussing that I can, in good conscience, play around my kids. There’s a lot of things going on right now. Some of them are external and some of them exist only in my mind. But the thing about stuff that happens in your head is that it can be as real as the things happening outside of it. Sometimes in the quiet spaces I’ll hear their lyrics:

We’ll take it mile by mile by

Hour by hour by

Day by day as we climb

And then it’s week by week by

Month by month by

Year by year

For a lifetime.

And it makes me smile. It’s funny what can make you remember to take a breath.