In years past I used to keep a list of books I read—a habit I wish I hadn’t let lapse. Books are ways of marking time, much like relationships and seasons, and the memory of reading them is usually strongly associated with whatever was going on at the time. For instance, I began an autumn revisit of Walden while traveling in Iceland, and fondly recall reading about the New England woods while on a bus through the weird volcanic landscape heading to the Blue Lagoon. Neither the book nor the experience would have been as rich had they not been intertwined.
Since my time is very regimented, reading is one of the only things I do that isn’t necessary to maintaining the basic life/shelter/offspring stuff. Not having the book list (which was kept in chronological order, naturally) deprives me of a lot of context. For 2015, I sort of remember reading The Goldfinch and Nabokov’s Strong Opinions while it was warm out, and As I Lay Dying when it was rainy a bunch?
Last year was also notable for being the first time I started a book without finishing it. That is NOT neurotic house style, and because I’m a jerk I consider it something that only lazy, unfocused people do. For various reasons, I was extremely unfocused when I picked up D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow, which was a random used bookstore purchase sometime in the summer. It had a lot of promise but was the most all-tell and no-show slog imaginable. After a hundred-plus pages of nearly dialogue-less third-person descriptions of the way various characters’ personalities changed over time, I admitted defeat and started reading The Iliad instead.
Overall I did not devote as much time reading this past year as I would have liked, due to a combination of too much stress and too little time. I definitely feel that as a failure and a loss, and aim to improve matters immediately.
On a separate but somewhat related note, another loss I’ve felt lately (where “lately” means “for years”) is that of writing as a leisure activity and way of communicating with my friends. Personal blogs died long ago, but the social media platforms that replaced them are almost entirely unfulfilling in the ways that matter to me. As such, I’m going to try to use this domain again for something—even though it can no longer be part of a network of sites that stimulate and entertain me; even though I don’t expect to get any feedback. At this point in my life, I am pretty happy to piss into the wind. It’s better than doing nothing (I think)!