I love both novels and nonfiction books. So, since I’ve had kids, I have tried to keep up with reading. But it’s been hard. When they were babies, the minute they were asleep I had to race to do all the mandatory tasks I couldn’t get done while they were awake.
When they were toddlers, Suzi loved to rip the tasseled bookmarks out of my books, so I was always losing my place. Patti was having none of my attention being taken off her for a second. And when I lay down at night to read, I always fell asleep with the book on my chest.
To tell the truth, I have read very little in the last nine years.
I thought the answer was a Kindle – one of those e-readers. They are great and wonderfully handy to carry around. But the same thing happened: I seldom had time to sit down to read and, at night, the call of the brain-numbing TV was much more appealing than the latest novel.
Even reading groups didn’t do the trick. As most moms know, a better name for reading groups is Mom’s Night Out. While I couldn’t wait to get to the meetings and share a glass of wine or three with the girls, I still wasn’t motivated enough to find time to read most of the books unless they were incredibly gripping. One time I didn’t even finish a book I had suggested.
And while most moms were the same as me, I started to notice some real readers in my midst and felt a bit ashamed. One mom I know counts to make sure finishes 52 books each year, and then she stops counting (she claims).
I started to feel the heat.
So finally, last fall, I took a technological leap and downloaded an audiobook to my iPhone. Since then, I have gone mad. I have read/listened to both of Jonathon Franzen books that everyone’s talking about. I’ve listened to the Millennium Trilogy mysteries (starring one of the greatest characters ever – Lisbeth Salander, aka the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). I have probably listened to a dozen books in four months, which takes me nowhere Michelle’s level, but makes me feel awfully good. And our library offers free downloads of tons of audiobooks online. Yay!
The miracle of audiobooks is that I don’t have to neglect other things. I actually look for excuses to go grocery shopping alone, walk the dog and do dishes and laundry. Mind-deadening as those activities can be, I’m loving listening to great narrators read books to me while I work. And although I have not refused to let Patti walk with me when I take the dog out, I do sometimes get annoyed that I can’t progress 20 minutes in my book by walking alone.
And I guess that’s the only down side. My mother was a good reader, and spent a lot of time hiding away reading a massive number of books. I pride myself on not doing the same, but it’s creeping up on me. Now that I can listen to John Updike while driving the girl to ballet, it’s hard not to.
But that’s not good. They may be able to see me, but I’m oblivious to their needs and conversation.
So I’m trying to enjoy my latest obsession with a little more self-control. Sometimes I’ve got to remember to pop out the earphones and remain in the present with my girls.
… But hey, don’t we need something from the store? I’m on the last chapter of Shutter Island!