These last two months have been a big triumph for me: I read 25 books. 25! I haven’t had stats (do I sound like I know about sports?) like that since I was, I dunno, a freshman in college? Six or seven years ago, at least.
It has me thinking a lot about the nature of reading: why I do it, and if it's kinda not great that I'm so excited about the number of books I read, rather than the books themselves--although I'm excited about them too! Just...separately.
Am I reading because I think I should? Is there part of me that sees it as a funky kind of duty, rather than a passion? (If so, is that why I haven’t read this much in recent years?)
At the end of the day, I'm no fool: if my checklist-oriented mindset is helping me read more, it's a win-win. I get to feel satisfaction and pride over the numbers, and I get to finally tackle a bunch of books that have been on my TBR for years. So what’s been on my mind most is...why now? What’s the recipe for my perfect reading life?
It's not like I didn't read at all these last few years: I've had spurts and sprints during that time. During the summers in college, I read a ton of audiobooks while I worked a very weird job at the university library where I read articles about golf course maintenance from magazines and made them searchable in a database. It was the Most Boring Job Ever, and I got so weirdly good at it that I could index the articles while listening to an audiobook: I had these two simultaneous lines of text moving in my head, because one was just essentially a paragraph formatted word search.Sometimes I’m reminded of one of those books and I have a weird backflash where I can see that office right in front of me: it's kinda eerie, when the book is medieval fantasy and I'm envisioning a filing cabinet.
But unlike every other reading spurt I've had the last few years, it hasn't come at the cost of my other passions (read: art.) Even now that I don’t have homework to complete or 3 part time barista gigs, time in the day is limited. I need to double up on some of these tasks.
Onto the subject of this love letter: Libby.
Audiobooks from Libby! You give me life! My days are busy: I work from home, so I don’t have a commute like many audiobook enthusiasts but I do have a big ol’ speaker that I can listen to things on all darn day. I have an art business that’s just getting off the ground that I’m working on with my brother, with periodic art commissions to worry about: the kind of work that’s just taking up the visual part of my brain, while the narrative side runs rampant. Audiobooks seem like a pretty obvious choice, but since cancelling my audibile subscription (It’s price-y for an entry level salary!) they hadn’t really been available to me.
I know what you’re thinking: Lauren, go to the library! There are CDs and books and options for you! A quick interlude to explain my personal shame:
The reason I’m so late to the libby party is that when I was in 7th grade, in 2006, and I walked to my local library and borrowed a 2-disc Tchaikovsky album.
It is in my closet.
For years, I got the late notices from the library: telling me about my fines, which were unreasonably high. The last letter I opened said something about $38, and to tween me it might as well have been 2 grand. I was so amazingly anxious about the library and my crimes that I have spent the last decade actively forgetting libraries existed.
This is ridiculous for many reasons: I could have just told my Mom, and she’d have paid the library the cost of the CD (like $12) and it would’ve been fine. I also moved out of that city in 2013, and could have gotten a new library card: a new identity, to leave my life of crime behind. I also worked in a library for 3 years! (I get a pass on this one: it was an academic library, and I was stuck in the section with books about mowing grass. It was neither an inspiring nor an enlightening place.)
But sometimes we aren’t smart! Sometimes we’re dumb. I was dumb. But in the end, I went to the library and got a new library card from the city where I live now.
Borrowing books from Libby is the BEST. It's a perfect combo of I'll-Get-There-When-I-Get-There and Lauren-There's-A-Deadline-On-This. I'm bad at deadlines: even now in post-school adulthood I find ways to procrastinate reading deadlines. I've read the last 3 picks for my book club the day or night before we've met (lookin' at you, the whole day I spent marathoning The Handmaid's Tale.) I love reading, I just hate doing what I'm told. High school Lauren makes sporadic appearances.
But with Libby, I know I can renew the book: but if I do it a bunch of times, I'm being a jerk. I hate doing what I'm told, but I hate feeling like a jerk more. Voila, my Libby shelf gets read!
Then shame kicks in: Lauren, you bought a LOT of books the last couple of years. They're closing in on you. Voila, I read the books on my shelves.
Being able to read so much again has helped me feel like I'm back to being myself. Not that I was any less me these recent years--I just take comfort in re-embracing this part of me. I'm at a point where I'm settling into my new-normal (Big Girl Job, apartment I don't need to move out of after one year, a good stock of candles for evening reading.) I'm glad that books are a big part of it.
Onto the next read.
Annual Goal: 52