So far I’ve read 10 books in July — eight fiction and only two nonfiction! I normally read about 60 percent nonfiction and 40 percent fiction, so this is pretty unusual. I’ve also unconsciously avoided all of the review copies on my shelves, focusing instead on books I own and books from the library. It’s felt a little bit like being on a reading vacation, if that makes any sense at all.
I think the biggest reason from this unusual reading month is that July has been an unusual month in real life too. I was on vacation near the beginning, then had to work a couple weekends in a row, then my grandpa passed away and I spent some time at home. It really wasn’t until yesterday that I felt like I was, in some ways, returning to my normal routine.
But why all of the fiction? That is, I think, slightly more convoluted.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the book blogging world about the relationship between bloggers/reviewers and publishers/authors. One of the ideas that seems to come up is what each group “owes” the other. As a general rule, I don’t think bloggers/reviewers owe either authors or publishers anything. I also don’t think publishers/authors owe bloggers anything either — books are not a form of currency or contract that imply either group is obligated to do something for the other.
If I feel like I “owe” anything, it’s that owe every book that I have been offered for review consideration my very best as a reader. I owe the book attentiveness and an open mind, thoughtfulness and an effort to understand what the book is trying to accomplish. I want to give these books my best as a reader because it is important to me to both to respect the publishers/authors who have shared their books with me, and respect the people who read this blog. I can hardly write long reviews or recommend books that I haven’t read carefully and openly.
I wish that I could say I give every book my best as a reader… but I don’t. That’s been clear to me during this last unusual month. If I am at a point in life where I am reading for comfort or escape or because I feel unmoored and need a book to pull me back into myself, I don’t feel like I’m meeting the obligation I’ve defined for myself because I’m just not at my best as a reader.
July has been a weird and difficult and busy month. It’s been hard, especially in the last two weeks, to hold myself together. I haven’t been able to read critically, and have instead been turning to fiction when I needed to read to focus and center and escape.
Luckily, I think I am getting my nonfiction reading brain back — part of why I felt like doing a recap today rather than a couple of days from now. Yesterday I started Geoffrey Nunberg’s Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, The First Sixty Years which is both fascinating and timely, given behavior in the online book community and the ever-increasing election related nonsense that is already beginning. And speaking of elections, there are a couple of political books I’m hoping to get to soon — The Gospel According to The Fix by Chris Cillizza and Muzzled by Joan Williams.
But what I get finished reading today will depend entirely on how absorbed I get watching the Olympics…
Do you find that your reading changes based on what is going on in your life? Do you read different kinds of books during different emotional states? What are the kinds of books you look for as comfort reads?