I have had two life-changing reading experiences: graduate school and the Outlander book series.
Both of them fed me in really deep ways. Both explored complex truths about being human and brought them to intense life. And both tainted the joy and ease I had always felt in reading.
Not because I got sick of reading. Because they left me feeling like I needed more. Like I was grasping. Or trying to hold onto something.
Ever since, nonfiction is often spoiled for me by the compulsion to start underlining things. Feeling like I should be noting the things that resonate with me, wanting to retain them somehow. And fiction just falls really damn flat. (For those of you who have read the Outlander books, you will probably know what I mean.) I have wasted so much money on partially read books. And each time yet another book was a let-down or I got tangled up in trying to hold onto it, I felt so deflated and sad and lost.
And then…I rediscovered the library. No wasted money. I can just explore and walk through the shelves, gathering any books that pique my interest. And it is okay if I don’t like them. No guilt. No frustration. It is so low stakes that I am liberated to pick up any books, take them home, and just see how they are. And if my interest in one withers as I read, I can just set it aside without feeling like I should read it. That is so clean and free feeling. And if I do like it, I know I have the option to buy a copy for myself if it is one I think I’ll reread.
But here is the most interesting thing to me: I’m learning to not cling to the ones I like. Because it’s not my book, I can’t keep it. I have to let it go. I can’t underline any text. I have to simply let the book wash over me and then let it go. And I’m learning that feels better. I feel deep relief. It’s like the antidote to the grasping I had been struggling with. Just being with each book while I read it and trusting that, because it is resonating with me, I am absorbing what I need from it. That it is making its unique home in me and that it won’t be forgotten or lost.
Do you ever find yourself getting stuck or bogged down with reading or any other activity you usually enjoy? Do you try to find your way back to that activity? How do you do it? Do you get very intentional about making something happen? Do you listen for internal cues of what feels right? Do you let it go to see what happens?