I’m a huge bookworm but of the worst kind: many books have been bought but seldom have they been read.
Buying books on a whim, I’m either pre-ordering in advance or during one of my aimless walks through a big box retailer like Chapter’s Indigo I am easily swayed. But you see, wandering without purpose through a bookstore is fun! Finding new sections in a bookstore to secretly ‘review’ questionable material is also fun. At times, I’m also clearly judging books by the cover. The pretty graphics and dust jackets with interesting and short book summaries have often left me wanting to know more and it only made sense that I buy the book…Other times after one too many clicks, I’ll have found myself in record time on Amazon’s ‘Confirm Your Purchase’ landing page. On the rare occasion, I come across a used book sale, I’ll stop to take a quick look and see if there’s anything worth my while. If’s it’s a steal of a deal, you bet I’m going to buy it.
In other words, I’ve always been open to adding a new book to my ever-growing collection but will I read it? God no and forget library books. Those are meant to be read, and I don’t read books, I collect them.
I wasn’t always like this. Up until a year into my undergrad, I use to read for leisure and it was mostly fiction. When I read, I had the opportunity to escape my reality, especially after having to dedicate so many brain cells trying to figure out my life academically, professionally and personally (often with poor results). Those were confusing days. But then it happened, who had time with all the inane course readings students were required to keep on top of? Also, there was TV – Thursday nights with Greys and a whole lot of time to waste away.
Yet I grew up reading for pleasure. My mom had planted that seed early on. I remember, initially my then downtown commuting mom regularly arriving home with a grocery bag, heavy with picture books. She would stop at the library on her way home from work. The bag (or two) often looked dangerously close to tearing and you could sometimes see book corners poking through the plastic. My mom, in the little time she had, would quickly curate a collection of picture books she thought I’d find interesting. Those were exciting evenings for little me. I soon became familiar with the library, as did my younger sister and we grew up visiting the library often to bring home our favorites. As I got older, both my parents always encouraged my interest in reading.
Looking back now I’m especially grateful my mom took time out of her demanding schedule to make those special detours to the library; introducing the importance of reading, to be curious and explore early on. It wasn’t easy as a young, new Canadian juggling a corporate career while also managing the competing responsibilities that came with being a wife – an INDIAN wife, daughter in law and mother. With thirty years behind me now, I can see more clearly all that she has done for us; in all her gestures, big and small.
Fast forward to today, and back to reality: I’ve cut down on the number of books I’m buying. Books are not cheap and I’m trying to be more financially savvy. I need to get my return on investment and work with what I’ve got. So, I’m taking a sabbatical from the impulse purchases. I could also do a better job with the actual reading bit. Baby steps; I’ve got a stack of books by my bed and I’m slowly working my way through, a couple of pages at a time.
Currently keeping me company on my bedside table:
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- The Power of Now – A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle *borrowed from a friend
- The State of Affairs – Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
- Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
It’s always funny to hear what people make of my collection, like “Girl, why are you reading up on infidelity and emotional intelligence?” – No reason, I’m just very curious and it’s better to be prepared than sorry. I’ve made some progress with Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist and I first started reading my tattered copy of Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Jan of 2016.. it’s now December of 2017. Yikes. I’m promising myself – being reasonable, a year from now – I will have conquered this small stack of five.
These days, we are so easily distracted. We get caught up with what’s in front of us, at our fingertips and on our screens. Put the phone away and pick up a book or listen to an audiobook. Leave Netflix for when you’re actually going to Netflix and chill and read a book instead! There is a great wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and narrative that could inspire and wake you up – all within the pages of a book. Nothing beats having your own personal experiences but learning from the insight of others gives you the space to reflect and learn from a perspective that might be unlike yours.
When you disconnect from your mobile devices, you’re taking care of yourself. It could be a fantastic story, an insightful piece of nonfiction or dare I say it? A SELF HELP book.
There was a time, my smug self would never have allowed herself to be caught dead in public with a self-help book. I was also a major idiot and realize now, I was operating on the self-righteous belief that self-help books were beneath me. It was a waste of time, “fluff” in my mind. I was also under the impression, self-help books only consisted of the sort titled like this: “How To Get That Bikini Body and Lose 15 Pounds in 1 Minute” or “How To Win the Man of Your Dreams Using Reverse Osmosis” or “You Are The Center of Your Universe” and other great titles like: “Fix All Your Life’s Biggest Problems – Read This Book”.
I instead gravitated to works of fiction because I wanted to escape my reality and there was no urgency or desire to critically examine my life at the time. I was sleepwalking through life and not at all interested in improving upon it.
I woke up and I’m more self-aware now. Fiction is still a great option but these days I’m all for the non-fiction variety. I acquire books that point towards improving my life, my career, and my relationships.
I read up on how the human mind works and all the wicked games it plays on its owners. I read books that remind me to prioritize and stay focused on the goals ahead of me. To live in the now and embrace the uncertainties and unavoidable adversities we all have to cross.
These books I impulsively purchase, all share a common thread. They remind me I’m human, and my experiences are like those of so many others. What I read these days, helps quiet the noise in my head, be present, practice gratitude and it keeps me in check. I’ve also learned it’s more important to be kind than to be right! UGH if only everyone knew that. Respect yourself and take care of yourself. Be proactive in life. All great messages I’ve taken away from the books I read these days. I make mistakes and I slip up from time to time, forgetting to practice what I’ve learned but it’s ok. I’m human and this is all part of the human experience. I know I still have a lot of work to do but it takes a lifetime and I’m in no rush.
Books are an investment in yourself and by extension those closest to you. Take care of yourself and pick up a good book. Put the remote down, hide your smartphone for a bit and read a couple of pages. Fuel your spirit and take time for introspection, reflecting on what you’ve read and how it relates to your life right now. You’ll be happy you did.