If I had an extra hour in every day, I know exactly how I’d spend it: working out.
Just kidding!! As if.
No, I’d spend it reading. No question.
Sometimes I think I should have been a librarian. Or a bookstore owner. Or a successful, bestselling author who gets to read when they’re not writing (or answering fan mail), instead of doing a day job. That would have been nice.
There was a time when I read more — namely, before I had children. But I have precious little time to do now. And stupid Clio’s cancer (the cancer being the stupid part; not her) has made it even harder.
I’m sort of in denial, though. I keep thinking that somehow I’m going to get around to reading everything I want to read.
Last March when I was at AWP, I signed up to get the Sunday New York Times. Partly because I wanted one of the free promotional items they were giving away at their table (I chose a coffee cup) but mostly because I really would like to have a life in which I spend a lazy Sunday morning drinking coffee and reading the paper.
But the reality is that maybe I manage to scan a few pages of the Magazine section while the girls are watching Ni Hao Kai Lan, and then I realize I have to go down to the basement to change the laundry over and when I come back up the girls are fighting over who’s taking up more room on the couch, and it all pretty much goes downhill from there.
The paper ends up sitting on a chair for a while (Exhibit A), as if we’re actually going to go back and read it later in the week, and eventually it ends up in the recycling bin, with a few sheets set aside to put down when the girls do art projects.
Meanwhile, we just renewed The New Yorker even though we (and mostly it’s Alastair) only read about 15% of the average issue. I don’t always even get around to all the cartoons anymore, which makes me sad.
I’ve saved all my old issues of Cook’s Illustrated (a magazine I adore, although I recently let my subscription expire) as if I’m going to go back and pore over and pluck recipes from them someday, when the reality is, I make the same meals out of the same 3 cookbooks over and over, and occasionally Google “easy not boring chicken recipe” or “fast lasagna.”
And then there’s the sad little bookshelf in our bedroom (Exhibit B, above), where I’ve amassed Spanish and French books and textbooks over the years (I speak enough of both language to have a decent conversation with a five-year-old native speaker).
Some of them I actually used back in my twenties, when I did that thing I believe was called “traveling.” And every once in a while, I have a little burst of resolve and say to myself “I’m going to read something in Spanish or French once a week!” You can imaginez how that goes, amigos.
Finally, there are the bookshelves in our living room (Exhibit C), laden with books that we either have read (and have kept as if we’re going to re-read them) or plan to read — many of which we’ve had forever, but which we keep convincing ourselves, each time we do a purge, that, yeah, no, really, someday we’ll read that Booker Prize winner of 2002, or Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky, or that biography of Gandhi I picked up out of a “free books” box on someone’s sidewalk back in 1998 and have toted around t0 4 subsequent addresses.
Of course, for a while when there was a free promo subscription to Entertainment Weekly showing up at our house for some reason, I somehow found the time to read it almost cover to cover. And somehow I always manage to find time to hang out on Facebook for a few minutes a couple of times a day.
But next month I’m going to read that Gandhi biography and drill myself on French verbs. I swear.