Have Book, Will Travel

windmills in Mykonos GreeceHere is a piece of advice for you. Don’t bring a real page-turner kind of book on your honeymoon. Yes, I admit that while we were enjoying the sandy beaches in Mykonos, Greece, my mind sometimes wandered elsewhere. In between seeing the larger-than-life windmills, enjoying authentic Mediterranean cuisine, and drinking copious amounts of ouzo, I was also lost in the streets of Washington, D.C. I was reading The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer.

Oh, I was right in there with those young law clerks who were fortunate enough to work next to Supreme Court Justices. I got caught up in the politics, secrets, betrayal, and mystery of it all. Who wouldn’t?

I intended to read it on the seven-hour flight to Athens. But, the book was so good that I couldn’t put it down. Thankfully my husband forgave me. In my defense, he knew who he married. 🙂 I didn’t go anywhere without a book or two in hand. Besides, we had the rest of our lives together. What can I say? I had to know how the book ended!

Over the years, books have served as my tour guides. Right now, I am reading about 1950’s Hollywood and the starlets who did everything possible to make their dreams come true. In this novel, not only do I get to explore new and exotic locations  – like film sets and mansions – but I also get to do a little time travel. It is fun to plant myself in the land of the rich and famous. The book is all glamour and grit at their very best.

And since we haven’t been able to travel due to the pandemic, the next best thing has been discovering new countries and historical periods from the comfort of my couch. Here is where I’ve been so far:

Where have you traveled to in your reading life? And where do you hope to go next? In the meantime, I’m going to look for a nice historical fiction novel set in the Greek Islands.

 

Weekend Makeover

Saturdays and Sundays used to be all about the kids and their activities. When they were little, we averaged around two birthday parties a weekend per kid. With two kids, this could add up to four parties in one weekend – sometimes on the same day at the same time. It was exhausting, but it is now fun to look at photos from the parties and see how little they and their friends were. Back then, high school and college seemed so far away.

As they got older, I dropped them off, picked them back up at practices, and sat on the sidelines cheering them on at the soccer/baseball games. This is all part of being a mom, and of course, I enjoyed every minute of it. But sometimes, I couldn’t wait for them to get their own driver’s licenses so they could get themselves to practice on their own. Now, I miss the car rides and the conversations.

Now that the kids are young adults, there isn’t as much running around as there used to be. In some ways, life has slowed down, but the weekends still go by so fast. I’ve had to learn how to spend quality time with myself outside of running errands and watching Law and Order all weekend long. I am definitely in need of a weekend makeover.

One of the things I missed when I was out with the kids was time to read. I think this is why I accumulated all these books but never actually got around to reading them. When the kids were little, the only time I could read was when I got my allergy shot and had to wait 30 minutes to make sure I didn’t have a reaction. I read many books in that doctor’s office, and sometimes I’d stay in the waiting room a little longer to finish a chapter.

Nowadays, I can carve out plenty of time for reading on the weekends. In the morning, you will likely find me on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book in hand. During the day, when I’m running errands, I’ll take a book with me in case I need something to do while I’m waiting for my number to be called at the deli counter. And when I start to get drawn into an episode of Law and Order, admittedly, I still watch it, but I’ll read a magazine during the commercials.

For me, Saturdays are sacred for me-time and family time. Sundays are for getting ready for Mondays. 🙂

Writing about Reading

For this month’s Ultimate Blog Challenge, I am going out of my comfort zone. You may have already noticed that I am sticking to one topic – reading –  and writing about it the entire time. For those of you who have followed my blog, this will be a little different than my normal schtick. I’ve given this a lot of thought and feel like it is the right time for something new, and here is why.

  1. Getting Published – I’ve been doing a lot of writing between blog challenges, including a 2500-word personal essay on surviving COVID-19 and its impact on different parts of my life. I would love to share bits and pieces of that story with you, but I’m shopping it around to be published. And unfortunately, if I publish the story on my blog, it is not considered original material and, therefore, no longer eligible for submission. I’ll keep you posted if it gets accepted anywhere! I promise.
  2. My Reading Life – Maybe you and I share a common love of great stories. Whether you have a TBR pile as tall as mine (65 fiction books!) or are a summer reader or a patron of your local library, I think you will find there is plenty to talk about. And if you aren’t a reader or haven’t picked up a book in a while, maybe I’ll inspire you to give it another go.
  3. Books Open Up New Things to Discuss – If a book does its job, it will lead to questions about any number of topics to write about here. Recently, I read two books about living with regrets – The Midnight Library and Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing. After reading the first book, our book club had an interesting discussion about what our lives would be like if we made different choices. As you can imagine, some fascinating revelations came to light. This topic alone made for great conversation. This is what books do – shine a light on aspects of life that we don’t often think about and then talk about it. There are discussions to be had on a wide range of issues, and books often serve as the icebreakers.
  4. Change is Good –  I’ve written plenty of posts about my kids, my dog, my job, my religion, my anxiety, and my everyday life. I’m not saying I won’t get back to that kind of writing because I most definitely will. Writing about reading is actually a pretty personal thing for me. Focusing on books might serve a bigger purpose. I can take a deep dive into my own interests, learn something new, and find ways to connect with others on a new level.
  5. I’m Still Looking for the Manual – As we all know, none of us are born with a “life manual,” but we can learn so much from books. This time next year, I will be an empty nester (or pretty close to it). I’ll be honest with you – I’m not looking forward to it. But, I need more information and inspiration that will prepare me for this next chapter. Who am I without my kids needing me 24-7? How will it affect my marriage? Will I be lonely? What can I expect, and what should I watch out for as I begin to figure things out? While I know I have people in my life who will advise me (and I am all ears!), I find that books are a reliable source when facing new challenges and opportunities.

All of this is to say that I have concerns that I will lose you as a reader if you are not interested in this particular topic. So much so that I felt like I had to defend my decision to take this new path. But, to grow as a writer and a reader, this is a risk I must take. I hope you understand and will stick around, comment on posts, and cheer me on. Thanks!

Top 5 Ways to Fix a Reading Slump

I met up with a friend at a nearby store the other day, and she said, “I knew it was you because I saw you reading your book.” Guilty as charged.

Right now, I’m on a pretty good reading streak. I’m picking up one book after another, DNF-ing the ones I don’t want to read, and selecting titles that I already own instead of buying new ones. But there have been plenty of times that I’ve gotten in a bit of a slump. A slump is a bit like burnout for avid readers. We want to read but just can’t for any number of reasons – daily distractions, errands to run, or things like your day job. And then, when we sit down to read, we can’t relax and enjoy it. Instead, we lose our reading mojo and wonder if we will ever get it back.

Here are some things I do to spark my interest in reading again.

  1. Try a new genre – Sometimes, I need to change things up a bit by reading a completely different type of book. I switch from fiction to nonfiction. Or I sink my teeth into a juicy celebrity tell-all. (Brat-Pack movie star Andrew McCarthy just came out with a new one, and I can’t wait to buy it!) I will even try out a YA (young adult) novel. A brand new generation of YA writers has made a good impression on me, like Rainbow Rowell and Angie Thomas.
  2.  Go to the library or bookstore – Shopping online is perfect when I know what book (or, in my case, books 🙂 ) I want, but sometimes I need to put myself in the right atmosphere to select my next read. Next time you are in a slump, stroll through the aisles and look at the titles to see what jumps out at you. Ask the librarian or bookstore owner to make some recommendations too!
  3. Download a book on your phone – For a while, I was a HUGE book snob and considered listening to a book in my car, not really reading. But I was 100% wrong. I’ve discovered that it takes just as much concentration to listen to a story in my car as it does to sit down and read an actual book. And when a book is well-narrated, it can spark your imagination and entertain you in a whole new way.
  4. Read a short story – The last thing I want to do when I’m in a slump is pick up the latest 500-page novel and force myself to read it. I’d much rather prefer choosing some wonderful short story collections or essays. A few that come to mind are written by David Sedaris or Lisa Scottoline, but there are so many good ones out there. Take your pick!
  5. Don’t sweat the slump – Finally, maybe you just aren’t in the mood to read, and that’s completely fine too. Take some time off. Clean out a closet, binge-watch a show on Netflix or start a jigsaw puzzle. When you are ready to pick up a book again, you will do it with newfound enthusiasm.

What do you do when you are in a reading slump?

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