Update: “Less is More” Reading Challenge

It’s already two months into 2020 which means I’ve had enough time to struggle with my new goal of reading less than 40 books this year.  January seemed to be the most difficult time for me because I had to consciously break the habit of reaching for a book whenever I had a spare moment.  I’d catch myself reaching for a book when I sat on the couch and then was confused when there wasn’t one on the living room side table. I laid down in bed at night and glanced at my night stand at the empty place where a book used to be.  I had to purposefully slow down my gluttony for books in January and start to purposefully select nourishing books.

Reading less than 40 books a year breaks down to less than 3 to 4 books a month.  Just to be on the safe side, I’ve decided that no more than 2 personal books a month for me.  As I’m subsiding with only two books a month, they had better be good ones. I turned to my Amazon wish list that has books that I’ve wanted to read but couldn’t borrow from the library.  Some of those books have kept warm for me for over two years and this was the time to start reading them. I decided I’d buy a book from my Amazon wish list once a month and treat myself to the pleasure of reading a book that I actually own.  At that rate, I’d be able to finish off all the books on my wish list by the end of the year, a thought that gives me a smile of anticipated satisfaction.

Now that I’m two months in my new goal of reading less than 40 books in 2020, it’s been a lot easier to control my insatiable desire to read.  I’ve learned the trick is to give myself choices in what I read and spend my time in other activities I enjoy. Yes, I’ll read a book from my Amazon wish list but there are a wide variety of books to choose from on that list.  The second book I’ll read a month is another freebie. I’ve noticed that this second book I choose is usually one that is about a current topic that interests me. I almost stumbled this month in my goal when I purchased my Amazon wish list book and didn’t start it but rather started reading a third book that took me by surprise (Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of Her Own”).  So it seems that I will not read my Amazon wish list book this month, but I will have read two books and that was the goal in the first place.  

Now that I’m not reading as much as I used to, I’ve rediscovered other activities that I enjoy.  When I sit down at my side of the couch I now reach for my crocheting bag instead of my current book.  I’m finally getting around to making an afghan of surplus autumn-colored yarn that a great aunt gave to me many years ago.  After my afghan is done, I’m thinking about working on my cross-stitch again, a lovely sea-side scene with the poem “Footprints” stitched above the waves.  If I want to read before bed, I read from the small Bible that I, as 2-year old, helped my dad by “underlining” important passages for him throughout the New Testament.

I’ve learned through this experience to read slowly and well.  Carefully choosing what books I read has enabled me to focus on topics that are important to me.  The chaff has been cleared and the nutritious wheat remains. Matt Haig in his book Reasons to Stay Alive said “Read a book without thinking about finishing it.  Just read it. Enjoy every word, sentence, and paragraph.  Don’t wish for it to end, or for it to never end.”

Fire In the Fireplace

The wind was blowing the billowing clouds across the desert sky, creating pockets of shadows across the golden desert, making it look like a patchwork quilt of light and dark.  The palm trees bent their heads and swayed with the cold wind. There was no one outside on this cold day. It was dark in the house and a candle was lit in the living room to chase away the cold and gloom.  It was a perfect day for a cheerful, crackling fire but we didn’t have a fireplace. I sighed as I wrapped myself tighter in my crocheted afghan, wishing the candle that I had lit on the entertainment center would give more heat.  I felt like Bob Crachet trying to warm his hands by candlelight in Scrooge’s office. We had the heater on but it didn’t chase away the cold I felt. What I needed was a good, warm, roaring fire, but we bought a house with no fireplace.  The only thing about my lovely home that I wish it had.

I decided to turn on Netflix on our BAT (Big-Ass TV).  Maybe I could watch a movie as I was cocooned in my blanket.  Netflix came up on the BAT perched on the wall above the entertainment center and I scrolled with my remote through all the shows.  I didn’t see anything that I felt like watching. Oh, wait, is this a show of a fire burning in a fireplace? I selected it out of curiosity and shortly I heard the wood crackling and saw sparks flying off a birch-wood fire projected in high-def ultra HD up on the BAT.

In no time at all, my on-screen fire was roaring, the shadows of the room were chased away and I had the coziness of a fire without having to chop wood.

What I needed now was a warm drink.  I fixed myself some tea and resumed my post on the couch wrapped in a blanket with my feet up on the recliner.  I reached over and picked up my book from the side table and started to read. My cat jumped on my lap and lay there purring as I turned the pages of the book and took sips from my tea, all in front of a cheerful, crackling fire.

My husband came into the living room, took one look at me and what was on the BAT and laughed.

“I know it’s not real, but I tell you, I feel the warmth!” I told him.

Still chuckling, he sat down on his side of the couch and shared the fire with me as he scrolled through his cellphone.

After a little while our kids wandered in the room, saw what was on the BAT and were impressed.  My daughter went to her room and got her own book and read it in front of the fire in the side chair.  My son brought his Legos in and set up a battle scene in front of the entertainment center.  

It was all rather cozy.  The crackling fire in our front living room while the winter wind blew outside.  

Suddenly, the fire went out.  The video had run its course and Netflix was showing us what we could watch next.

“Uh-Oh!” I exclaimed.  “Our fire went out, someone should have added another log to it.”

My husband reached for the remote and restarted the show. Crackling flames soon spread their warmth into the living room.