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The books you read

When ‘everything’ started back in March, I sort of naively imagined I’d get lots of reading done. I’d have all this time, I thought. I wouldn’t be traveling, I’d still get my work done at home and then I could just read and read and read. 

Didn’t happen that way, at all. Matter of fact for a few months I could hardly read anything. I couldn’t concentrate, had too much to think about and process, and was just trying to keep the business going and take care of the team and clients. 

But as time has moved on, and things have settled - a little - I’ve noticed my reading levels have not only returned, they’ve increased significantly. I’m at the ‘voracious’ level of reader at  the moment, literally reading 3-4 books per week. I’ve read 37 books since January, and so far it’s not slowing down. 

What you read, and how much you read, says a lot about what you’re processing and working through. Where your mind is, what you care about or want to care about. There’s great power in a good book, and I’m discovering there’s great power in a book you’re not sure of, too. Most books I read come recommended from a friend, or from an Amazon suggestion based on other books I’ve read, and I’m really enjoying opening my mind to new kinds of books. I spent a lot of time in the past only reading “certain” kinds of books, almost a subconscious “approved book list”, although I didn’t recognise it as such. Now I’m trying books I might never have considered before, and I’m literally fascinated by them. 

In today’s sketch are a few of the books I’ve read recently, and the theme I can see is that of growth. Change. Opening your mind to new possibilities. Seeing things differently than you used to see them. Making up your own mind. I’ve read some novels too, but I notice most of those have to do with disruption and technology and people changing over time and redemption and release and freedom. 

I was meeting with a counsellor this week (side note: SUCH a good thing to do, for any reason, but especially now, where all of us have many heavy things we either know about or don’t realise are there), and I mentioned a book I was reading. She asked what else I was reading, and I started listing some of them. Together we noticed that pattern I mentioned, and I even gave her a few book suggestions she was intrigued by. 

Books are powerful. Books tell stories - I was going to say whether they’re true or fiction, but I’m discovering all stories are taken from real life. 

Even fictional stories are written based on the experience or thoughts or imagination of the author, based on their life and reading and ideas. Some stories are “true” in the sense that they actually happened to real people, but even then the author usually recognises that they are looking at their story in a particular way, with a particular focus, or with some memories different from others’. 

Tara Westover in her book Educated mentions several circumstances she remembers with startling clarity, and yet when she discussed the same story with her brother or sister or someone else who was there, they specifically remembered something entirely different. She remembered her dad being there; they remembered him definitely not being there. She remembered it this way, they remembered it that way. The overall impression of the story was similar, but some of the specifics were very different. 

My list of “books to read” gets longer every day. For every book I finish, two or three more get suggested to me, and I go “ooooh, yes that one too!” Some days I think about how I have so many book ideas myself, and I want to write about this and write about that, and other days I think they’ve all been written and I am not quite sure yet what I have to say which is different or needs saying in my own way, and I go back to reading other books. 

There’s no rush: I used to feel pressured by people saying “oh, you need to write a book!”, as if I was letting the world down by not writing a book for the sake of writing a book. Or just because I love writing and do it all the time in emails and blog posts and social posts, means I have a specific book idea with a purpose that needs to be out there in the world. I think I probably will, one day, but I’m learning the value of slowing down and listening, and not rushing to be the one talking all the time. 

I’m going to be on holiday for the next three weeks, so you won’t be getting a Note from me during that time. That’s actually super hard for me to commit to - I wanted to say “well I might write one if I feel like it”, but I know myself well enough that saying maybe is enough to feel like a locked in commitment, as if I’d be letting everyone down not writing one, so… I’m committing to a break. I’ll take my three week break, and I’ll be back to these Notes in mid September, and I already have a whole pile of books ready and waiting for me during that time! 

One of the things I’d really like to do is FINISH a pile of books which are partly read. Here’s my “books partly read” list:

  • Warriors Witches and Damn Rebel Bitches (Mairi Kidd)
  • Deep Work (Cal Newport) 
  • Branding (Michael Johnson)
  • Known (Mark Schaefer) 
  • Everybody Writes (Ann Handley)
  • The Body Keeps the Score (Bessel van der Kolk)
  • The Liturgy of the Ordinary (Tish Harrison Warren)
  • Feminine Mystique (Betty Friedan)
...and probably five or six others floating around in the house or on my phone which I forgot about! 
I’ll report back in three weeks, but in the meantime do drop me a line to let me know what you’re reading! I’d love to hear about it! 


 

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