Well, April is done and over, and I had a terrible month for reading. I don’t think I finished a single book – only a few chapters of the Decameron, and I put off any other books because I like to read one book at a time.
In the past, I have had an upstairs book, a downstairs book and a bathroom book going at the same time, but I’m just not up to multi-tasking these days. Perhaps it’s because online reading has taken over so much of my life. I wake up and check Twitter and one online newspaper, then go to the bathroom and scan the headlines of a couple of wire services. This takes a half an hour to 45 minutes, and uses some of the same multi-tasking skills that I used to use for multiple fiction books. I’m following two or three big news stories, and maybe another two or three Twitter narratives.
There are pros and cons to everything. The online reading brings constant surprises, and sometimes I can use those things in real life (I’ve been interested in sourdough bread for years, but only in the past six months have I seen THAT story online; I may actually do make a sourdough starter this summer if I keep reading). But the coincidences! The really too-stupid-to-live characters who would never pass a gate-keeping publisher’s crack editorial team! The lack of happy endings, or even endings at all. A lot of times, stories online just trail off into obscurity to be replaced with the next story-of-the-day. If we’re lucky, three months later some big magazine does a “the valiant heroes of XX” review or “what went wrong with YY”. But a lot of those big magazines are behind paywalls these days.
So, I want to get back into reading real books for May. I’m going to start small, and aim for one book a week (and this week, if I finish the Decameron, I’ll call that a win).
I feel terribly under-achieving with such a goal – I used to read a lot more books a week, and also, reading books is terribly important for a writer. Reading books helps keep one abreast of industry trends, they are often miniworkshops, and they provide important fodder for the imagination machine. I feel like I should be reading at least four books a week . . . but a low bar benefits everyone. I’m going to try for one a week, and keep working on the house, the garden, the ukulele, the language studies, exercise, and the pet welfare.
Sourdough bread is going to have to wait for another month, it looks like.
CURRENT PLAN: Read for one hour or so after dinner. Find pillows to make a nest on the bed. Limit news and Twitter to one hour in the morning, and use the afternoon lull to listen to music and catch up with the late night comedy shows so I won’t be tempted to use reading time to take a quick peek at the dollar/yen rate or the COVID-19 infection numbers.