Of the many things I love to do, I love to read. And unfortunately I never seem to have enough time to do it.
I thank my mom for the love of reading, because as a youngster, I would not go to sleep.
I'd lay there for what seemed like hours, tossing and turning. I'd sneak downstairs and watch TV, hiding from my parents; peeking around the corner into the family room, until I finally got tired enough, or until they caught me.
First of all, I'm a night owl. I get my second wind about 7pm. I am not a morning person!!!
Second, my brain just seems to always be on the go. It doesn't turn off. I wrote a poem in college about my brain, and how it is like a butterfly. It would fly to one flower (topic), then fly off to the next--non-stop. It just flits around from thought to thought. A few seconds here, a few seconds there. I have a hard time shutting it down.
I'm sure I would be diagnosed with ADHD if I was in school today.
It was during these late nights that my mom tucked me back in bed and said, "why don't
you read? That will help. It will turn your brain off." She gave me a Nancy Drew mystery--one of hers from when she was a kid--and left the room. After a couple of chapters, I was tired enough that I turned off my light, and fell asleep. I was 8 or 9. I've read every night since then.
Even during graduate school, after I was reading/studying all day long, I still read a "fun book" before bed, even if just for 10 minutes. It "cleansed" all the stuff running through my mind. If I didn't, it would take forever to go to sleep, or I'd wake up thinking about the exhibition I was working on, or the Race, Ethnicity and Gender paper I needed to write.
Reading helps me. It takes to me faraway places; it teaches me new things.
This is one thing that truly feeds my soul.
I read every night before bed. I have stacks(!) of books next to my bed.
And I read everything. I usually have 2 or 3 books going at the same time. I thoroughly enjoy book series. My favorite is Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series (I think she is up to #25 or #26). They are not only enjoyable and humorous, but nice, quick, fun reads. They are light hearted and I don't have to think a lot. Easy escape.
I am also in a book club. My book club has great taste! We have been meeting for almost 20 years, and there is no stopping us. We all take turns hosting and selecting books. It is quite an eclectic taste of books as well. Everything from The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobb and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood to Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, The Shining by Stephen King and Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and all kinds of books in between. Even during this crappy year of 2020, we have still met--virtually at first on Zoom, but eventually meeting in someone's back yard. We are close friends, and throughout this Covid induced nightmare, we have grown even closer. We have a group chat that is always active. It is where we can yell, scream, bitch, cry and laugh with each other. It has been a life saver. They are incredible women, and I am blessed and honored to know them. The Juggabees rule! (The name is a whole other story!)
I'm a big fan of history books (duh!). I've read several books by Stephen Ambrose (such as Nothing Like it in the World about the Transcontinental Railroad, and Undaunted Courage about Lewis and Clark) and David McCullogh (such as the biography of John Adams, and 1776). Ambrose and McCullogh are probably the godfathers of history for the masses. But I love other historical books as well. One of my favorites was Triangle, by Dave Von Drehle, about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, and Dark Tide by Stephen Puleo about the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. Seabiscuit and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown are great true stories about the human (or horse) spirit and overcoming odds.
I loved Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer about climbing Mt. Everest the spring of 1996, the deadliest year until that point on the mountain. His other books about living in Alaska (Into the Wild) and about the Mormons (Under the Banner of Heaven) are excellent. He is a great writer of non-fiction.
Over the past year, the vast majority of books I've read have focused on sports. Primarily cycling, swimming and running (go figure). I've read a bunch of cycling books, like Tyler Hamilton's The Secret Race, about his life as a professional cyclist and the pro peloton's drug use. I learned about Major Taylor, a young African-American who become World Champion in the early 20th century, in a book by the same name by Conrad Kerber and Terry Kerber. Team 7-Eleven by Geoff Drake and Jim Ochowicz, how the United States finally got a Tour de France team. And many, many others.
Diana Nyad's book Find A Way, was a fascinating look into the preparation needed to try to swim the Florida Strait (from Cuba to Florida), as well as her life. The Three-Year Swim Club, by Julie Checkoway, about the kids who grew up on Maui, swimming in ditches, that go on to become national champions, and almost Olympians (World War II got in the way), is a great underdog story. I also really enjoyed the books by Lynne Cox, most well known for swimming the English Channel at age 15, as well as swimming the Bering Strait from the US to Russia, and a mile to Antarctica. (the writing isn't great, but what astonishing feats!) Her best book, I believe is Grayson, about her swimming with a young Gray whale who lost its way, and trying to find its mother. I read this books to my boys, and they were enthralled. I personally believe it's a great book for young adults, because she was only 14 or 15 when this happened, and how she took it upon herself to assist this poor helpless animal.
Another great book is North by Scott Jurek. He is an "ultra" runner. The book is about his attempt to break the record for the fastest time "running" the Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine. Chasing Kona is an interesting read about Rob Cummings journey from a novice triathlete to qualifying for Kona. I thoroughly enjoyed the book by Mike Reilly--the voice of Ironman--called, Finding My Voice. This book was part biography, but a lot about the people he has met along the way. Incredibly inspiring stories, that I found myself crying over.
And just so you know--in 2020, Mike Reilly, the guy who yells, "You Are An Ironman!" at Kona was going to be at Ironman Mont Tremblant. I really, really hope he will be there next year. I get teared up every time I hear him yell those words.
And of course, I've also been reading what a lot of folks call, "self help" type books. I mentioned The Year of No Nonsense in a previous post, but others books like You Are A Badass, Maybe It's You and The Brave Athlete, have also passed through my brain at bed time.
I'm currently reading 3 different books. Roar by Dr. Stacy T. Sims, Mirna Valerio's memoir, A Beautiful Work in Progress, and Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights, by Dr. Gretchen Sorin.
Mirna is awesome. Many would call her a "big boned" women, who runs ultramarathons. I don't ever envision myself running a 50k trail race, but never say never, right? She speaks of how she got into running and how she doesn't let those who call her "fat" ruin her life.
Roar is a different beast. Dr. Sims mantra is, "Women are Not Small Men." Roar is part science book, part training bible, providing research on how a woman's physiology needs to be taken into account when training, as well as the foods we eat. Even our monthly cycle (or lack thereof), and the hormonal imbalances they cause can be used to our advantage in racing, and in life.
Gretchen's book is a well documented look at the African American experience with the automobile--as employment, as transportation, as an escape from oppression to some extent. Her personal stories along with her research give a new perspective into the Great Migration as well as Urban Renewal. The car gave and took away. She writes in a way that you don't need a doctorate in order t0 understand it. And full disclosure...Gretchen is the Director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Yes, that program where I went to Museum school. She was my professor, and good friend. Oh, and one more thing...this book is the basis of a new PBS documentary by Ric Burns that debuted the other night (October 13) nationwide. Watch it! It is excellent!
So, back to the title of this blog post, Who's got time for that? Most people do something everyday to keep them on track. Exercise, yoga, meditation, writing, journaling, knitting, watching TV, something to keep us sane. For me it's reading. Being a night person, it works for me. I know others who get up first early and meditate, or go for a run. I guess the bottom line is we all need something to distract us from "life" for a little bit. TV may be a "babysitter", but with many shows focusing on "reality television", there is little distraction or escape. It just doesn't do it for me anymore.
I am transported to somewhere new. I learn something that I never knew about. I learn something about myself. I can take a break. And, I make time for it every night.
I know it drives my husband crazy that I lay in bed and read before shutting off the light, but after 27 years of marriage, he gets it.
He also now reads in bed with me at night.