Reading, books, and other random thoughts.

I love to read! Let me clarify that… I loved to read. In recent years I have found it difficult to get through a book. I no longer invest the time it takes to complete an actual book. Why is that I have wondered. I have spent all of my life reading every book I could get my hands on, every cereal box placed in front of me, just about anything with the printed word!

So why now, when I actually have time to read has it become such a chore?

Let me go back to how my love of reading began.  It started with my father. My father was one of the smartest and most well read people I have ever known.  He grew up in a in a rural area during the Great Depression.  He only completed the eighth grade before he was called home to work full time on the farm. Probably not uncommon for many kids of the era. By the age of 15, he fled his home (with the blessing of his mother), to enlist in the US Navy and his ‘real’ education began. Perhaps it was during this time he developed a thirst for knowledge and a love of reading, I don’t really know. I do know he read everything you could imagine. It makes me wonder if his life had been different what doors might have been opened to him!!

Not only did he share his love of reading, Dad introduced us to poetry. He read to us about the moon being the North wind’s cookie, about the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat,  The Owl and the Pussycat  (who went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat) but his very favorite was anything written by Robert W. Service.


This poet wrote of the gold-seeking days of the Yukon. When I was in the 7th grade there was an all school speech contest. While others entrants were focusing on Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Longfellow, and other more conventional poets, he encouraged a very shy me to enter and memorize the entire saga of The Cremation of Sam McGee. Perhaps not a junior high school literary choice by some but I actually won first place with that poem. To this day I can still recite most of it (but cannot remember my bank password)! The following year we moved on to The Ballad of Salvation Bill but no prize. Since it is a story about a crusty old drunken prospector and a preacher, the novelty might have been lost on the judges that year.

I  still have my father’s treasured poetry books.

We were not allowed to read comic books because Dad said if you were going to read, read a real book (he excluded the Sunday funny papers from this rule). Because of him, some my earliest memories are the hours spent in libraries. Having a library card was like having a golden key to a wide world of possibilities. I worked my way through The Bobbsey Twins,


Ellen Tibbetts,  Henry Huggins (and Ribsy),  Trixie Beldon, The Happy Hollisters, and just about anything else. As a pre-teen, I moved on to Nancy Drew, the famous girl sleuth.


Next came The Hardy Boys.  I loved mysteries! I was scouring school libraries and exploring all of the library branches I could talk my parents into driving me to. I checked out the maximum number of books allowed and read most of them. I grew up in a time when you did not own many books but the ones I had-I read them over and over!! I was never without a book in my hands.

In high school we were required to read many books.


The Iliad, The Odessy, Grapes of Wrath (which turned out to be my all time favorite book) The Jungle, The Great Gatsby, Anne Frank, Catcher in the Rye, and many more. The required reading continued in college. Don Quixote, Canterbury Tales. Malcom X-I was just never as fond of reading when it was required. I read many of the classics such as; Hans Brinker, Heidi, Jane Eyre, John Steinbeck, Moby Dick, Treasure Island, To Kill a Mockingbird, Black Beauty, Mark Twain-some as a child, some by choice-others required. My first grown-up type novel was when I “borrowed” an Ian Flemming-James Bond book.

I probably said good bye to the books of my youth after that.

And then I became a mom. Although I liked  the popular fiction of the day-Love Story, The Exorcist,  Jonathan Livingston Seagull,  James Michener books,  Looking For Mr Goodbar, and  The Thornbirds  …


Dr. Seuss, The Berenstain Bears, Goodnight Moon, and Where The Wild Things Are now became a huge part of my reading.  When my kids had required reading (and long  faces) we would read together.  I was now reading Newbery and Caldecott Medal books while trying to inspire them to enjoy reading as much as I did. I  too was reading them poetry with their favorite being The Spider and the Fly. When the romance novels came on the scene I was hooked. Sea Captains, castles, Southern  mansions-the longer the saga the better. Later it was popular fiction authors such as; Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Dean Knootz,  Jean Auel, John Grishman, David Baldacci, Jeffery Archer, and Nelson DeMille. I spent many nights turning just one more page.

So subtly did my love of reading slow down I didn’t notice for awhile. My coworkers shared books around the office. It seemed to take me forever to complete so I stopped accepting them. No longer did I ask for a particular book or bookstore gift card for my birthday. My friends, who are avid readers, made some fabulous suggestions and I would dutifully jot down the titles with the best of intentions of reading them. I would reserve books at the library, scour the bookshelves of friends and family, frequent the second hand book shops and read book reviews.  I read a few of them. Some I started but never finished. If I did finish a book it might take me months to turn that last page. I still love books and have a pile just waiting for me. I have a collection of antique books. I still check out books from the library.

I want to read, I really do. It isn’t for poor eyesight, overdue library fines, time, or lack of good titles to select from…

So what is it?

I have no idea.


23 thoughts on “Reading, books, and other random thoughts.

  1. Pingback: All is quiet on the home front | mommermom

  2. I have a small notebook on the headboard. I date it each night and write one line about the best thing that day. Some days I have to write small to others are that I’m grateful to still be breathing but those are rare. They make you think about your day and how wonderful it really was. This journal has been in use since 2012 and has room for 2050 I think. It takes just a moment.

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  3. You make me smile!!!😊Thank you for taking the time to comment. I was so happy to hear others treasured the same books I had in my youth. I don’t know that kids read much of those these days. To change the subject just a bit. …a gratitude journal? I love that idea. Earlier in my blogging efforts I wrote a post about gratitude. But a journal-Wow!!! Something daily to keep a person on track no matter what curve ball life throws at you, you take the time to actually write it down (something like that? ) Just a suggestion-great idea for a post….
    I too believe in the saying “An attitude of gratitude. ” Sigh. …you really made me smile today. Thanks. ☺

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  4. You made us think here. I love to read but it doesn’t always get to the top of the list. I’ve found I must have different kinds of books at once for different states of mind. Some nights I can read a few chapters on how quantum physics works but it must come first in the line after my gratitude journal. I end my nights reading with something light. I like Chicken Soup books because they inspire and are short. Or I’ll read something funny. Janet Evanovich has run her course but I would wake up laughing thinking about the antics from my read the night before. I have a dozen books on my headboard but of course, no husband to disturb the reading. You have a lot on your plate and the reading will come back in due time. Sometimes, I just can’t concentrate on the words.
    Give yourself a break and relax awhile. There will come a book you just can’t put down. I’ve read many of the classics but now I must read something I can learn from or laugh from. Books are what I life and breathe for. Many you mentioned above were the glue that held me together as an adolescent. I actually found some volumes of Trixie Belden newly reprinted and bought them for memories sake. Also some vintage Donna Parker. I wasn’t able to keep my own books. Oh, the memories.

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  5. Thank you, Elizabeth! You have encouraged me. I am not giving up. Funny how we pass through different phases in our lives. Last year you couldn’t have dragged me away from my sewing machine. ….this year. ..not so much. 😊

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  6. Jan, I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed this post. I too went through this non reading phase for several years. I didn’t understand it either. But it did pass and now I am once again devouring all those delicious reads again, both new and old favorites. I’m sure your passion for reading will return as well. 🙂

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  7. Nancy, you are such an encourager and I appreciate it so much! Thank you for your comments. I am taking many of the suggestion into consideration. I actually finished an audiobook today something I had never really done before( unless on a road trip) . It was great! I was able to listen while I was at the gym, cooking, and puttering around the house.


  8. Hi Jan,
    An interesting question, and judging by the comments, a few of us are finding the same thing. I’m just tired at night. I used to read at night, and now, I climb into bed and get a few pages in, and I can’t continue, but I often cannot sleep after I close the book and turn off the light. I tend to think the how we feel physically and mentally has a big impact on even the smallest of these choices. From your lovely blog, your life seems very full; maybe the reading will come back round full circle, or maybe it will continue to elude you. Maybe it has become more the need to communicate out rather than absorb ideas from others. That is a very worthy thing to aspire to. xx Nancy

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  9. I am weaning myself off face book too – maybe I should just cold turkey! I know what you mean about the retirement thing – for me having so much free time has been such a treat, the downside is I don’t spend it all in ways that are good for me! Time for me to reinvent myself again too! Thank you for the post that is giving me the right thoughts 🙂

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  10. Well, isn’t that a sweet idea? Yes my life is much fuller these last years- in a different way . Not that raising 5 kids didn’t keep me plenty busy and was definitely colorful, but now life is how I choose to enjoy it. I guess it doesn’t have to be spent reading. Perhaps a change of the type of books I read is in order . I am currently reading a book about the civilizations over the years along the Mediterranean Sea. Not something I would have normally picked up but somehow I recently have developed a fascination for history. While I can’t say I’m not struggling, I am motivated. Kind of like going on a diet. I’m sort of reluctant to say it out loud because people might ask me if I ever finished the book!

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  11. A book club is a great idea and I may just consider that as a remedy! Yes, a great deal of my time is spent on the web in some fashion or another. Probably too much time. About 6 months ago I took all of my games off and put my Facebook friends on notice that I am on an extended hiatus. My hope was to free up some more time. ….well. …I just found other things to fill up those minutes (or hours to be honest). I recently started keeping a list for myself. Perhaps reading should go on the list until I redevelop the habit! This retirement is a reinvention of myself in some ways. Thanks for commiserating with me.


  12. Funny Jan, I used to read cereal boxes too. I gave up reading for awhile, I think I had too many things on my mind to concentrate very well. About a year ago, I started reading once again. I go to the library and check out a couple a week. I loved reading most of my life, and now I welcome back my old friend.

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  13. This strikes a chord! For me I think most of my time that was once spent with a book is now spent on-line. I would curl up every evening for at least an hour with the current book before heading for sleep. Sometimes I would read for the greater part of an evening. Weekends during the day [when I worked]. I used to read over my morning coffee – now I’m blogging, reading blogs, writing posts, answering comments or commenting. I shop on-line, pursue information, waste time and play solitaire – a dreadful time waster! Most of these activities are done in what was my reading time. Now I can go weeks without reading my current book. Although I have to say if I find a good book – one that captures my attention and is well written – I do manage to find the time for it!

    I think a book club is such a good idea – it would make me find that time again regularly and my life would be richer for it!

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  14. I REALLY need to get more sleep! I just read your title as “Reading books and other ransom notes!” Either that, or I need to stop watching the crime channel…I can remember a poem I had to recite by one of our great Aussie poets at school but passwords flutter around me like moths in the light and are almost as evasive as mosquitoes. My dad read everything. When he died we donated boxes and boxes of books to the thrift shop. He bought them, he took them out of the library and I think that they were his best friends. I didn’t have a very close relationship with my dad, but we shared a love of reading. I wish I had more time to read. A few years ago I started reading someone else’s “best books you MUST read” list. I loved some of them like good friends, but others went so far wide of the mark. I guess it is like anything else in life, you should always march to the beat of your own drum as no-one else lives inside your skin. I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to read. I devour books when I get time. I hold them with me and take them everywhere on the off chance I will have a spare minute to indulge. Maybe you don’t need the fantasy of books because your life is so much richer and more colourful now Ms Mommermom?

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  15. Ahhhh…a book club. Interesting thought. A few of my friends ( who don’t live locally) belong to book clubs. That might help inspire me-or send me running for the hills! !😄 Yes, time with technology takes away time that might have been spent with a book. Good insight. Thanks.


  16. I finished a book every couple of days as a child, (particularly since we didn’t have a television), and I think I was better read then than now. I could remember who wrote what for starters! When I started advancing in the workforce, and also computers came in, I had so many emails and technical based reading that I developed a speed reading skimming style and reading for pleasure took a back seat. Now I am retired I have more time for reading, but the quality of the writing is variable. I am thinking now of revisiting all those classic and important books of my childhood.

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  17. Interesting that you read so prolifically throughout your life and not now – have you moved on to other interests that take away your reading time? I have just started to realize that I spend more time these days on line – time I may have devoted to reading in the past. The question Might be – is it a problem to be reading less after a lifetime of reading? That I don’t know… I belong to a book club since cutting back on work and that ensures one book a month and good company to discuss it!

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