My 8th grade English teacher Mr. West advised giving a book 50 pages. If we didn't like it at that point, he said, it was fair to put it down. I think if Mr. West were in my life today, he would say that it's also fair to return to it later. And, he'd agree with me when I say, put a book down if reading it doesn't feel right. This came to me last night after I looked at my bedside table reading material last night and looked away. Before bed I don't want to think about business or practical feeding tips for my toddler. I usually want to decompress as I gently beckon sleep, not feel the need to take notes. I shuffled my stack after looking back at the same table again. This time I saw Mama Zen.
I'd started Mama Zen months ago and felt a little "meh". Nothing resonated with me. Looking at it last night though, everything was a click. Clearly there was a reason it was still in my possession. It can be easy though to drift into a sea of self-guilt over "other" unfinished projects or set aside hobbies. And I was almost there. I was close to should-ing on myself for piles of books that I wasn't reading. But then I remembered that reading should be a pleasure. It is self-care for those of us who see books as an oasis. If reading is a pleasure, then we must always read out of a desire to do so, not out of obligation or guilt.
"Every book is worth reading which puts the reader in a working mood." Emerson said. And if you consider reading to be a way to care for yourself as I do, perhaps this will feel true for you too. Never beat yourself up for not finishing a book. Instead, remember that with reading, like parenting, timing is everything. If something's not working, put it aside. Try it again later. Shake it up a bit even but put it away for later. Even way later. There's a reason it's not working but don't divert energy into puzzling out that question. Just set aside and try again another time. Be gentle with yourself. And, when in doubt, remember this thought from Emily McDowell.
Thanks for reading...now or later.