Posts tagged lifestyle
Improving Your Reading Life: Just Put it Down

I think we're pretty much all been there: your TBR stack is staring at you accusingly, but you can't get to it because the book you're currently reading is going sooo slowly. And it feels like a chore. So you avoid it. And nothing gets read. And you start to feel guilty or irritated. 

The moment you find yourself avoiding reading because you don't want to read the specific book you're working on, it's time to give yourself permission to put it down and mark it off as DNF (did not finish). Reading that feels like a chore feels so terrible, and often we feel obligated to finish a book we started, no matter how much we may not want to.

This happened to me pretty recently, there was a book I was reading that I just wasn't clicking with. I genuinely felt like I had to finish it, even though the rest of my TBR looked so much more enticing! It took me over a week to let go and just put the book down. A week

I don't know about you guys, but it is REALLY hard for me to not finish a book. There's the whiff of failure and the lingering sense of guilt that comes with setting a novel aside unfinished. My rational brain knows that I'm an adult and I should use my precious time reading what I want to read, not what I feel like I should be reading, but it's hard to keep that mind set sometimes.

Consequently,  I've been really practicing giving myself permission to not finish a book, and reminding myself that it will always be waiting on my shelf or available at the library if I want to return to it. My time is so limited, I have to remind myself not to waste it on books that don't fulfill me, or excite me, or make me eager to pick them back up. 

Sometimes a book just isn't for you right now. It could just be not what you're in the mood for, the wrong season, hitting on something that feels sensitive to you at the moment, or any number of other things. You can ask yourself: what makes you abandon a book? Sometimes there's a clear pattern, but sometimes it's just natural whims.

I tend turn away from certain themes and writing styles, and since I know that I don't enjoy them, when they do pop up in a book I'm starting, I tell myself it's okay to just put it down. I've read enough books I don't like, that I'm getting adept at spotting when it won't be an enjoyable read for me. And that's okay! Not every book is for everyone!

In the end, just make sure you read for fun. Read for inspiration, for thrills, for love; read anything and everything you want to read, but don't read books you aren't enjoying. We all should feel free to ditch what isn't working for us. Plus, you'll get a lot more reading done when you don't spend days hung up on something you're not loving, and that's always a good thing!

What as the last book you set aside without finishing? When do you know it's time to give up on a book?




Literary Lifestyle | Productivity and Attitude Adjustments
Lifestyle Meets Literature: Productivity and Attitude Adjustments

The most profound impact that books have had on my life these last few years has been to give me a major attitude adjustment about things I don't like in a really practical way.

Let me explain.

In September 2013 I became a mother to my wonderful little boy while my own mother was dying of cancer. Yeah. Rough. 

So here I was in the new mom fog and my world just so incredibly altered with losing my mother and losing my former identity as a carefree, newly-married twenty something, and I just was so exhausted and confused and lost about everything. And above all, just flat out overwhelmed.

I knew I needed to start exercising as much for my mental health as for my physical health. I spent my childhood and teen years in high level competitive swimming and so having to consciously choose to exercise was never something I had to learn to do, as I was spending 3 hours in the pool every day after school. Now I had a tiny baby whom I couldn't leave long enough for a proper gym or swim workout, I HATED running, and I was also utterly desperate to start habits that would lessen my own risk of cancer and health problems. I could not have cared less that the scale was higher than I'd ever seen it after my pregnancy, but I cared very much that my son should NEVER have to watch what I watched with my mother's disease and death.

I started out using audio books to motivate myself to get out the door and go for a walk. I was always so interested in the stories that it often motivated me to walk longer just so I could keep listening. I had spent my whole life an obsessed reader but in those early months with a newborn I wasn't getting enough sleep to focus on an actual book, so this was my outlet and provided a little corner of normalcy for my grief stricken and over taxed brain. I worked up from 15 minute walks to a full 45 minutes within a couple months.

As my son got older, we got more sleep and went I back to normal, I resumed reading real books, and discovered the magical world of bookish podcasts. Suddenly my TBR pile was growing, I was reading a lot more, I was looking forward to my walks every day and even started training myself to run. This was all rooted in the high level of engagement I had with these podcasts. Nowadays my 3 mile runs are just part of my routine and have become something I'm excited about (something I NEVER EVER thought I'd say), and I have audio books and podcasts to thank for pulling me out of the fog of that first stressful year and completely changing my attitude and relationship with exercise and running.

I've also found that they serve as excellent motivators in dull, repetitive daily tasks, too. Huge mountain of laundry that needs to be folded and put away? I don't mind even one little bit once I have a podcast playing. Sink full of dirty dishes? As long as I have a podcast I'll cheerfully bury myself in soap bubbles. House needs a scrub? Let me queue up an episode and I'm ready to tackle it. You get the point.

All of the tasks that I thought were irritating and unenjoyable were suddenly not a big deal to me, and that attitude adjustment has been priceless and spills into everything else. I found that when I'm not weighed down with feeling bothered by the grunt work of every day life, I find myself so much more productive and upbeat and pleasant. Go figure. The attitude adjustment was sorely needed and has had a profound impact on my happiness, and I am so grateful.

I'm compiling a list of my favorite podcasts for a future post, including the ones I turn to when my TBR pile gets overwhelming and I need a break from the literary genre!

What do you do to give yourself an attitude adjustment? What things make unpleasant tasks bearable for you? Let me know in the comments!