Because Margaret asked, I thought I'd share some of the books that managed to help propel me out of my reading slump.
Although I never would characterize myself as a voracious reader, once upon a time I at least had books on my nightstand that I was working through on a regular basis.
Then my attention span cracked under the stress of dealing with Jules' issues...and then homeschooling issues...and then general parenting issues, and I could hardly read. Not books, not blogs, hardly even a magazine article. People point to reading as a great escape from the difficulties of reality, but if your reality makes you annoyed with almost every fictional character you encounter, then it's best to just let them be for awhile. It's hardly helpful to allow imagined characters make you grumpy at the real people in your life.
As a bit of a last ditch effort, I subscribed to Audible so that I could at least listen to books. Perhaps that would help.
I got recommendations from people on Facebook and started.
I listened to The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I admit: I started and then abandoned it at first because my brain just wasn't getting it. But I turned it back on when I flew out to visit Andrea in Scotland, and eventually I started warming up to the characters. For however slow the beginning might be, the ending is wonderful.
I tried reading some actual pages--fiction by Atul Gawande and Malcolm Gladwell are two of my favorite non-fiction writers--but my brain wasn't ready.
So I waited, and then armed with more recommendations I started listening again.
I picked the most crazy title off the list of books friends had recommended, and listened. It was exactly what I needed.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is hands-down one of the most charming books I have ever read (or rather, listened to). If you haven't read it, you absolutely must. The characters are so beautiful and sweet, and the plot is funny and sad and real, and as soon as I finished it, I told my mom and sister that they absolutely had to read it. Andrea listened to it--which I highly recommend because the voices are perfection--and told me later that even though she usually only listens to books while she runs, she had to sit and listen to it at home because she was so caught up in the storyline. My mom also loved it.
And just like that, I wanted to read. I listened to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and cried even though I'm often skeptical of YA lit.
I listened to Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, a wonderful historical fiction with strong female characters.
I've started listening to Deep Down Dark, The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar. It came with an amazing recommendation, and already I'm caught up in what happens to the men.
I read Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, and it really is as good as everyone says it is. Made me cry. And inspired me for a possible PhD dissertation topic.
I read Star Cursed and Sister's Fate, the second and third book in a 3-book series by Jessica Spotswood. I met Jessica many years ago through her blog--I've even had the pleasure of having lunch with her in DC. Through her blog I got to experience her struggles with getting published, and was so thrilled for her when her book was picked up to be a trilogy a few years ago. She is a genuinely nice person. The entire series is really fantastic YA lit that has a not-too-depressing dystopian feel to it, and I'm sure I'll recommend them to Sydney in a few years.
I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker, and it absolutely rocked my world. I'm still trying to figure out how to implement the ideas into my life and my family's life.
As a follow-up to 7, I have put in a library request for The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. With a subtitle like that, how could I go wrong?
I also have The Light Between Oceans by RL Stedman on my nightstand waiting to be finished. I read part of it, had to return it to the library, and then was going to listen to it, but the Audible reviews were so terrible regarding the narrator that I figured I better just check the book out again. So this time I am determined to finish it on time, which shouldn't be too much trouble since I've enjoyed what I've read so far.
Looking back over the past year, I think the thing that most propelled me back into reading was a renewed curiosity with words and stories and the beauty they can bring into my life. Though some of the parenting stresses are still present--and even just this Christmas break we have had some household drama that has pushed me back into having panic attacks--books have become the place I want to retreat to rather than run from.
I still wouldn't place me in the avid reader or writer category, but the creative spark is back. And I'm pretty darn happy about it.