This has been quite an unusual reading year for me. I have taken advantage of the library more often. I've borrowed many a book, read a little or a lot of them and discarded them. I don't think I've ever read so many pages of a book I eventually quit. I've always been one to drop a book as soon as it didn't interest me. I continued to do so this year. But here is what is so weird. I read over half of many books, liking them quite well, praising them to Tom, and then suddenly I couldn't care less. I became bored or annoyed with the subject matter or the way a book was written. I can barely understand this, even though I experienced it time after time. And then the books I did finish, and wrote about, were fine. They were okay. They were pleasant. Some were exceptional. But as I look back, the overall feeling is one of mild interest. Not a satisfying reading year at all.
I suspect part of this was the daily tension and worry about Tom's father. You may remember me telling you he had Alzheimer's when I wrote about Still Alice. Beginning a year ago, we started thinking he would need to be in an assisted living facility. But then he seemed okay at home. Between his landlord, and Tom, and the people downtown, he had a full life and was well watched over. Yet, I worried. I worried about the steep stairs up to his apartment. I worried about him walking on uneven sidewalks, especially after he fell a few times. I worried because he sometimes went down the hill to Main St. at night, thinking it was time for breakfast. A couple times the kindly police brought him home.
In the past few months, we began to see that the time of assisted living was past, and that his next stop would have to be a nursing home. He was on a waiting list for two of them. But before a space opened up, he went downhill very suddenly, and after collapsing one day while Tom was there, went to the hospital via ambulance, and died the next day. One couldn't ask for a gentler, more agreeable end of life. He was happy, cheerful, and well-cared for.
The wisdom that comes only with looking back made me realize that my reading life the past twelve months has been an anomaly. I couldn't sit still very long. I would read a little and then hop up and do something else. Television in the evening was a bit of a refuge from tension, and I went through seven seasons of Bones, catching up to the current one.
Not only was I not that happy in my books, I had a terrible time writing about them. Although I wanted to keep track of my reading here, it became a chore. And not only after finishing a book, but sometimes during it. Occasionally it felt like reading for the blog entry. What will I say? Will I focus on this part? Was this totally due to my concerns about my father-in-law? I don't think so. I think my state of mind simply clarified a feeling that has been slowly growing in me. I think I don't want to write about my reading anymore. I am tired of doing so. I want to read like the proverbial child, one book after another without stopping to analyze or talk about it. I want to simply enjoy without having to explain why.
I don't know just yet where this feeling will lead, but I know the direction of my letters is going to change. I think I will still keep a list of books read, but I am not going to write about them anymore. Maybe I'll do as I did at the very start of my blog, and do a 'book of the month.' Maybe I'll do end of month postings with just a few words about each book. Maybe I won't do anything but list them.
Time, as they say, is fleeting. I don't have 60 years of reading ahead of me. I want to let myself purely love what I read without any obligation to write about it. And I am going to begin now, with one exception. I was sent a lovely children's book to read and write about, and offer a giveaway copy to a reader, so I will do that. But other than that book, I'm done. I'm not going to join any challenges. My reading will return to a quiet and joyful pleasure.