Reading is FUNdamental

I hate to admit it, but since the fall program year began, I have not finished reading a book. Please don't take this as one of those "I'm so busy and important I can't read a book!!!" boasts. I'm actually puzzled and a bit ashamed at my fall off the reading rainbow.

At the beginning of 2008 I decided to take on Beso Mami's reading challenge. I've always been a reader, but there's no question that in recent years I let other things take the place of books, and because I spend so much time multi-tasking it can be hard to find the focused time to disappear between the pages and let the words work on me.

I made it easy on myself and started by re-reading some favorites, just as when I returned to knitting after a long gap, I began with a simple pattern. When I developed RA that same spring, Pure Luck bought the Kindle for me as a piece of adaptive equipment. It's sitting on my bedside table, loaded with books I'm not reading right now, some I've started but not finished ("A Passage to India," "A People's History of Christianity") and others entirely unread and seemingly unappealing.

I'm interested to know how other busy people, and especially pastors, find the time to start and finish books. There's no question that my schedule now is more demanding than in my other ministry jobs, but I don't want that to be my excuse for reading nothing more challenging than the Huffington Post! There are books that would be helpful, fruitful, even needful. There are books that might even be fun.

Maybe I need a happy novel, a little more Precious Ramotswe–or maybe a mystery.

But first I need a block of time to get started. And I guess the only way to get that is to give it to myself.

19 thoughts on “Reading is FUNdamental”

  1. What if you chose one evening a week as an electronic sabbath, a time in which you would commit to turn off the television and put away all interactive devices except the kindle?

  2. I could definitely try that, maybe on my day off. (I’m out for meetings 3 or 4 nights a week.) (But that doesn’t mean I’m trading on my sense of significance here.) (I hope you believe that.) There might be an issue with falling asleep, though. I’ve fallen asleep over Diana Butler Bass a lot. A lot.

  3. No ideas here. Just wanted you to know that I got a Kindle for my birthday! You helped me know it could be a good option, though right now I am only appreciating the free samples that can be downloaded.

  4. I’ve been having the same problem. I wonder, is it worse to have paper books sitting unread in a stack or electronic books, hidden but no less stacked and unread? I borrowed the latest Dan Brown (please, no lectures from anyone about his flawed research or theology — it’s fiction *g* and he writes a thrilling story!) and I have been going to bed a bit early each night to read. I have discovered that my DVR seems to “force” me into watching TV so that I don’t run out of room…yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, that’s why I’ve deleted a ton of programs and have decided to choose books over television whenever I’m on my own for the evening. Progress, I hope.

  5. I tend to notice this in the transition from summer to program year…as the routine settles in it does get better, I promise. Right around Advent. That may sound crazy, but I’m serious–as an associate (particularly if one works in education/youth areas), Advent is a slightly slower time because there’s less programmy stuff. But for the routine to settle in at all, we have to work really hard at keeping the boundaries!
    …she said, preaching to herself…

  6. Sweetie I’m in exactly the same boat. Stacks of books waiting and I seem to spend time online at both quieter ends of the day…Because of the way things are here, I guess alot of that is enjoying the company there – maybe your current reading famine is partly a reflection of Don’s absence? In my clergy review it came up as something I was anxious about, in terms of work-related reading but my reviewer concluded that the ENFP struggles with structures and planning mean that it will always be harder for me to actually timetable a reading day and stick to it if something pastoral comes up…So, no solutions but a bushel of fellow-feeling. Shall we try the reading challenge again next year, and try and hold one another accountable? I really WANT to read most of the books on my pile…

  7. You know, I am wondering that myself so I am glad you brought this up and I am excited to see I am not the only ENFP around. I think it is disciple of setting aside time for sabbath. I think MaineCelt nailed it. Now can us multi-tasking, jugglers of all things do it is another issue.

  8. I carry a book with me everywhere. I read while I blow dry my hair in the morning. I read while I’m waitng for the computer to load. I read in carpool lines while waiting for my son, and in waiting rooms, when I’m not visiting with a parishoner, and I read for at least an hour at the end of the day. I feel I need to knit more. I guess we all set our sights high…

  9. Jennifer, I have been like that most of my life. Maybe I just don’t like what I’m reading right now? I think we’ve talked before here about giving up on books. I don’t like to do it. But perhaps that’s the key to breaking this logjam.

  10. As a lifelong voracious reader, I will say that I had a period of about 5 years, after I finished my EVERLASTING MASTER’S DEGREE, when I did not read at all (almost). It’s such an aberration from my norm it’s hard to remember that…but it happened. I theorize that it was all those years of classwork and reading, thesis reading, IGNORING thesis reading, IGNORING that the thesis was not getting written, and finally changing to non-thesis option.
    Then reading was not engaging for me for the several years. Part of that time I had a child at home & was working 2 jobs, which contrubuted.
    I see it as a life season…one I would not have choisen, but which makes me better able to appreciate the reading I am doing now.
    I am reading very little in the way of serious books right now (in my field, in religion/spirituality, other areas of intellectual interest). My current diet is largely what appeals to me from the “New Books” section at the library. I am just savoring; escaping from stress of work and other things.
    All this to say: Maybe you want to let it be what it is. When the time comes, and I’m certain it will, you will “pick up” again. In the meantime…know the reading will be there for you when you are ready for it.

  11. Recent reads I enjoyed: The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Beach Street Knitting Society & Yarn Club by Gil McNeil. Both available on Kindle…

  12. I have taken to listening to audiobooks while I walk the dog. Since I walk her at least 3 miles a day, I feel like a voracious reader again. I love the feel of the pages when I sit with a book in my hands, but don’t have as much time for that as I like. Thankfully, most libraries have downloadable mp3 books.

  13. Songbird, you know those parentheses warmed my little heart! Sometimes even I forget how I wound up being called LaReina.

  14. (BTW, my previous comment was on Songbird’s first reply in the comment thread.)
    I used to read much more than I do now. It’s just not fun when trying to read through several layers of hundreds (thousands?) of always-moving floaters – especially after being at a computer screen most of the day for work. It’s odd, though. I’ve had floaters my whole life, and they only really started irritating me when I realized most people don’t have them. (Or when they do, they only have a couple floaters – few enough to get an actual count.)
    I’ve been trying to finish the same book for nearly a year now. And for some reason, last Christmas everyone decided to give me books – none of which I requested. (This year, if I get any unrequested books, I’m asking for a receipt so I can exchange them so the gift-givers’ money won’t go to waste.)

  15. I can second Mary Beth’s recommendation of The BEach Street Knitting Society…. and I don’t even knit! I got the large print version. I have not yet read as many books as at this time last year, and I think I blame Facebook and other not-really-necessary uses of the computer. MaineCelt’s electronic Sabbath idea is a good one (I had almost one earlier this week when the Internet was down for 2 1/2 days).

  16. 1. Books on cd (audiobooks in general) so one can read while commuting OR EVEN CLEANING!
    2. Books that appeal/fill the void–if the ones you’re reading are too heavy and you’re feeling depressed, they won’t get read.
    3. Struggle against the insidious incursions of technology. . . be mindful in your use of it, I guess. . .since I just deliberately spent an hour reading blogs, but it was DELIBERATE, not the “where’d my reading time go?” stolen time I sometimes fall prey to.

  17. I read during sports that my husband watches on tv so I’m in the same room with him (he’s somewhat disabled from a stroke that made him leave active parish ministry at 51). I also read when I head to bed. When work is piling up i escape to lighter mysteries instead of non-fiction like bios. Never try to read church-related books at bedtime.
    Let’s face it –you’re simply tired. I sometimes go months w/o cross-stitching or crocheting and then resume and wonder why I let go of these meditative actions.

  18. I think you need to relax and not worry about not reading! Sometimes we set ourselves up! I find that I set goals for myself — reading more than 100 books this year, for example, or knitting “at least an inch” every day, or cleaning one drawer every Sat. etc. These goals are supposed to be helpful, things I WANT to do, things to help me relax. But sometimes the goal becomes the stressor! When I find that I’m stressing over achieving the goal I set to help me relax, I have to give myself a shake and let the goal go. Give yourself permission not to achieve the goal === who’s keeping score?

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