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So, Bekah’s first That’s Normal In Real Life post was all about how life stops when she’s obsessed with a book series: dishes don’t get washed, work and housework get ignored, food seems less important. As That’s Normal resident book maven (check out the recently named Beth’s Nook of Normal Books for a recap!), I am pretty much known around here for reading just about everything. (Sidenote: the word “maven” is defined as an expert but also … freak. Thanks for that accuracy, Merriam-Webster.)
The truth is I feel just like everyone else: I spend time watching TV, hanging out with friends, going to church, working, taking care of my house and my kids and my husband, checking Facebook, trolling the internet, lounging at the pool. I don’t read THAT MUCH. But then I took a look at my goodreads list for the year, and realized I’ve read 50 books in 2013. That’s FIFTY BOOKS in six measly months. (50 the actual number, not books about FIFTY/50/FSoG … I have standards, you guys.) Apparently, I DO read that much.
Should I be embarrassed by that? Does it make me super uncool to have that many books under my belt in so little time? Do you have an image of me constantly greasy in a housecoat, drinking coffee and surrounded by unwashed laundry and filthy urchins? I mean, occasionally that’s accurate. But for the most part, I feel #normal.
Should I be proud of that? It’s not as if I’m sitting around reading nothing but Joyce and Faulkner and David Foster Wallace. Sure, I’ve read all those guys but that was in college. I spent ten years reading nothing but classics, but now I only pick up something “highbrow” once or twice a year. Should I be tooting my own urban-fantasy-erotica-romance-novella-YA-children’s-horror reading horn?
I turned my dining room into a book room a few years ago. I did this for a couple of reasons: one, we have a large eat-in kitchen and only one dining table, so we didn’t need or use the room. Two, the three bookshelves I had scattered throughout the house were not cutting it in terms of book storage. I had piles of books in my bedroom that were toppling over. But three, if you ask my husband why I have a book room, he’ll tell you it ain’t nothing more than a trophy case. You can’t walk into our house without seeing the book room. But whatever. It’s not like I post about what I read on Facebook. THOSE people should be ashamed.
Whether I should be embarrassed or not, the truth is, I’m pretty open about my book love. I love curling up in there, plucking a book off the shelf, getting a cup of coffee and reading. And I love letting friends in to browse and borrow. (The room is already overflowing. I’m moving things around this summer because I’ve run out of shelf space. I might have a book BUYING problem as well.)
Most people would be or should be proud to be a voracious reader, right? The reality is I get flack for it. I actually had a good friend accuse me of sticking my kids in the closet* so I could read because “there was no way” that I could read that much and actually pay attention to them.
I’ve had family members wonder if I could possibly be keeping house correctly if my free time goes to fiction instead of cooking and cleaning. How can I be feeding my kids GMO-free, free range organic, kale smoothies and homemade apple pie? (Spoiler alert: I’m not.) I’ve had people side-eye me with a “poor you” look like I must be so lonely that I have to spend that much time reading and not, I don’t know, day drinking? Lonely? I THINK NOT.
The truth is I’m just like you. I have some things that get done, and some that don’t. I have obligations that I fulfill, and I have promises that I don’t. My family isn’t going hungry, but it’s not Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade every night. My house is in order, but I would probably have to do a kamikaze sweep through if Henry Cavill was coming by. My social life is just fine, thank you, because I only really like people who also like to read a lot. I work, I volunteer, I parent, I do married stuff, I see my grandmother at the nursing home, I organize playdates, I write blog posts, I go to concerts, I take mini-vacations, I teach Sunday School and I take time to do nothing. I read a lot because I love it, and I still get my shizz done.
Truth be told, I have a very enviable life right now. I work part-time: in the office two days a week, from home the rest of the time. My job affords me a LOT of flexibility, so I can pick my kids up from school, be home with them in the afternoon, etc. It’s amazing how much reading you can fit in when you’re sitting in the carpool line.
Also, my kids are both school aged now (they are 6 and 8), so they are pretty independent. Sure, I cart them around all week long, but they can play on their own without constant supervision. When we’re at the pool in the afternoon, they are swimming; I am sitting in the shade reading. (That’s not to say you can’t fit reading time in when your kids are babies though. The iPhone is the greatest thing in the world for a nursing mother who has one hand free and is up for hours at a time.)
So, depending on the day of the week, I get about 3 hours of uninterrupted reading time when I’m not working and my kids are either occupied doing their own thing or asleep. And for the record, when I am cleaning/cooking/organizing/attending school functions etc. I AM WORKING.
But, in the spirit of confession, I am by no means a super-woman. PLENTY goes undone in my life. I thought I would show you just a few of the things around my house that have taken a back burner in favor of my latest fictional obsession.
This is last week’s To-Do list. Notice there are only FOUR items check-marked. Which means a lot of stuff didn’t get done.
Yes, everything still has tags on it, including my new gloves. No, I still haven’t gotten around to it.
We have a small house, and my husband doesn’t have a lot of storage for his clothes. This might also be because I have too many. But anyway, I put his seasonal clothes in a space bag, and the other day he was begging for shorts. I got some out for him, but have yet to get around to putting the rest of his summer stuff where he can find it. Ooops.
I’ve had this lamp for years. Up until last week it was all black, but I decided to paint it a sunny yellow. Of course, I have plans to cover the shade, and that hasn’t happened yet. So … it’s looking a little honey-bee right now. It’s fugly, I know. I have PLANS.
I make time to read almost every night between 9pm and midnight. Some nights my husband and I catch up on our TV shows, so I don’t get a chance. I read in those blessedly quiet parts of the morning when we don’t have to rush to get out the door, and the kids are watching cartoons. And I ALWAYS read when I’m doing something that doesn’t require my full attention LIKE: I read in the carpool line. I read anytime we are going somewhere and I am not the one driving. I read while waiting in line at Starbucks. I read while my kids have basketball practice. I read during sex (NO, NOT REALLY).
So, there you have it. Yes, I read way too much, my kids don’t always eat their vegetables, and my house is not Better Homes and Gardens photo-shoot ready. But it’s a balance. One that I’m totally, mostly, completely ok with. I mean, I even have time for super cute Christmas cards.
*I’ve never** done that.
**By “never” I mean: not since they could talk and tell someone I did it.
When do you make time to read? Do you think I’m completely crazy and 50 books in less than half a year is insane?