Sunday, June 9, 2013

Not Keeping Up With My Reading

Oh sure, I've always had a pile of books waiting to be read. So did he. There were a few he still hadn't got to when he died. A terrible  thought in one way, not to finish — or in some cases even start — every book you want to read before you die. But any book lover knows, it would be impossible. And in another way that's a good thing. How much worse it would be to run out, to have nothing more left to read! (Well yes, we compulsive readers would read cinema tickets and bus timetables if there was nothing else, but that's not quite the same.)

At present, however, the pile to be read is growing too fast, because I just can't get into many books these days. This is a very surprising thing in a lifelong bookworm like me. It's downright disconcerting. It has to be an extraordinary book to hold my interest now. I don't necessarily mean an extraordinary work of literature. 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak did, because it's one of the most beautifully written books I've ever come across; but I'm struggling with Kate Grenville's acclaimed 'Secret River'. It's not that I don't like it, it's not that the characters aren't engaging. Despite that, it's hard to care. Some fantasy novels (my favourite fictional genre) have been a bit easier, but not much. I make my way through them slowly. Once I'd have devoured them almost too fast, sorry to reach the end.

This new phenomenon has become more pronounced, the longer it is since Andrew's death. I think I've finally realised why. Reading was a thing we often used to do together. I don't mean reading the same book at the same time — though occasionally we did that too, either looking over each other's shoulders or taking it in turns to read aloud. No, I mean that we used to sit up in bed together, at either end of the day, propped against our big pillows, and read side by side our different books. It was very companionable, very cosy. Sometimes we'd share aloud some special passage; often we'd say to each other, 'You have to read this book!' (which we often did). Reading in bed now is just another occasion for missing him.

I do read in other places too — at the meal table, in waiting rooms — as always, but I don't linger. I lost an earlier great love of my life many years ago, and I learned then that keeping busy is one way to get through a bereavement.  That gave me the habit; I've been a busy person ever since, always putting a bit too much on my plate. In Andrew's final years I was busier than ever before, caring for him round the clock and still trying to keep up with everything else in my life. It's not like that now; I've stopped running on the adrenaline and slowed right down. But still I use the trick of keeping occupied so as not to wallow in grief. I don't suppress it, but I don't live in it all the time, either. Sitting down to read just doesn't happen as often; if I sit down, it's more likely at the computer or iPad, where I'm doing the writing — whether that's making out my shopping list, writing a poem, or talking to people on Facebook. Or creating a blog post, as I'm doing now.

Wouldn't you think a good book would be the very thing to take me out of myself? Apparently not. Which is rather odd, as watching TV or DVDs does. I guess that the act of reading allows the mind to wander too much — to go off on a trail of association, and suddenly come bang up against the grief once more. On screen, the action keeps on going and you have to stay with it. Yes, it has emotional effects, but then it and I move on.

14 comments:

  1. I hope you will find your way back to books again. I lost my way with them some years ago and then found that books just seemed to drop into my lap. I read a lot more now that I have my ipad but I do a lot of spiritual reading rather than fiction. Sending you love and hugs.
    Dropping by from 6WS.

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    1. Interesting. Now that you mention it, I think the spiritual books are much less of a problem to me. Something to take note of there! :)

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  2. I have been fortunate over the past couple of month -- my stack has dwindled by several ... an unusual accomplishment!! :) Unfortunately as a result of hospital stays, appointments etc.

    Visiting from 6WS

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    1. Wishing for you better circumstances - and glad that at least you can use the time that way and hopefully distract yourself too. :)

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  3. grief takes time- my thoughts are with you as you travel this path.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, a friend who has been widowed four years tells me it was the same for her at first, even with favourite books/authors, but the love of reading did eventually return.

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  4. Ya I pile too much on my plate too and never have any time to read any of my books. I've been stuck on Catch 22 for about two, or three years now and I finally decided to stop reading it. I might try to read it later on, I don't know. : )

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    1. I long ago gave up on both Catch 22 and Ulysses. Could never get past the first few pages of either.

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  5. Hi Rosemary ~~ Sorry that I am so late in catching up here. I like to read but don't do much of it. I don't think I read anything except school (I had returned to college) books after my divorce for over 15 years. Like you at first I couldn't sit down with a book just to read, and then later I was out of the habbit.

    I do believe though, that you will find reading enjoyable soon. Perhaps your favorites will be of a different kind, I see that you are open and trying different ones.
    ..

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    1. That's a very good thought, Jim.

      And please don't apologise. You are not obliged to visit. I appreciate it whenever it happens and always like what you have to say. It sometimes takes me several days to get around other people's posts.

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  6. Hello Rosemary,

    It's a late Grace that comes by to read you again. It was nice to see your gravatar in the middle of the commom. It's amazing how I can rely on what your writing,even if I didn't stop reading. Let get it clear, I'm not a widow,my mother is. But what you describe is exactly what I felt when I lost my father. We had so much in commom, we shared so many things, and for years (and I realised it only last december) my mind just refused to accept this lost. I thought I did, but I was just pretending and lie to myself. Lately my ex husband told me that we were three in our marriage and that he couldn't fight a ghost. I can't hear a piece of opera without crying, I can't read the books we shared, well, I should say I couldn't because for the first time after 20 years, I accepted the true and agree to let him go. I know it, because I went to us this year, my father died in Washington and it was impossible for me even to imagine going there and I did, and most of all, I has host by the last person who saw him alive.
    Sorry for being so long.

    I don't know if or when, it's will happen to you, things are differents, but I wish it will, just for your heart to rest a little.

    Wish you a nice end of week !!

    Grace

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    1. You are well named! Your comment is full of grace. :)

      Thank you for sharing all this.

      I will just have to take it all step by step and see how it unfolds. Time will help, no doubt, as it did you.

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    2. It's totally unusual to talk or write about what reallys pains me. Actually a little part the real me cames back in me, and it's not so bad. My parents are christians, my father was a catholic and my mum is a protestant, and giving grace to God what natural for them.

      My best for the day

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    3. How lovely that they saw you as a sign of God's grace to them, and so named you! xx

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