It’s funny how you can forget what you like. As if the years of becoming push out what was. Only fragments remain, fluttering in the breeze of all the empty space.
I was always an avid reader. Even before I learned to read, books called to me. In elementary school I was the kid in the library corner reading everything in sight. At home I was curled up on the couch with a stack. Or in bed straining my eyes using the dim hallway light to read one more chapter.
I read in the car, on the bus, at church, between assignments at school. I never went anywhere without a book. The fear of being caught with nothing to read was ever present.
People gifted me books or gift cards for books. My mom even let me take, and keep, her treasured Nancy Drew books because of my passion. Those books are still in really good shape and have a place of honor on a shelf in my home.
Then life got busier. I got married and a few years later, we started our family. I couldn’t read a book to save my life. I missed it. So my mom started giving me magazines. Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping, AARP,… I started buying fitness magazines, knitting and crochet magazines, clean eating and recipe magazines. I consumed them with the same veraciousness I had with books. It went on this way through three babies and their toddler years.
One day, I came across a unique reading list. I had been dabbling with reading books again and this list illuminated something in me I’d almost forgotten. A challenge to read 24 books in 12 months. A book with a number in the title, a book you read for school, one written by someone who is not a writer, a memoir, … Some were a challenge to find, others fell into my lap. Books sitting untouched on my shelves got to come down and breathe life back into me. This list brought me back home.
This list also broadened my genre choices. I was enjoying subjects I had once thought dull. Deliberately choosing things out of my comfort zone. I only made it to 22 books, but it was such a rewarding challenge. And with three kids, at least one still in diapers at the time, I am impressed with getting to 22!
It has been several years since then. I read in fits and spurts, now. Some books really capture me and others get drawn out over weeks or months. What I’ve been learning about myself is that my memory of what I read as a kid had been dimmed for a long time. My young adult life was dominated by dark fantasy series. Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, Harry Dresden, Twilight (yes, I’m a big fan). Easy, quick reading. Intelligent enough to keep me challenged, but slightly predictable and comforting. I, somehow, used this phase to overshadow what I read before high school, college, and several years beyond.
That’s not to say I didn’t read a lot of horror and fantasy as a kid. I did. But I also read mysteries, historical fiction, adventure, classics, brand new science-fiction, books from my parents’ youth, … I read almost anything and everything. Then I narrowed down because I just wanted an escape. My type of relaxing read settled into a comfy spot and stayed for a while. Well, there’s only so many of those authors that I actually enjoy.
Between trying the books on display at the local library, and at Barnes and Noble, I have rediscovered some lost loves. Murder Mysteries can be a lot of fun! As I find the ones I like, I have started remembering fragments of the mystery books I read as a kid. I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew, but there was Encyclopedia Brown, and a host of others I can’t quite remember.
My books on neuroscience, behavioral science, and sociology are piling up. History books about our stories as humans. Some of that is also inspired by my work. I’m fascinated by the brain-body connection. Influencing the nervous system to allow the body to relax, in order to get the brain relaxed, so the body can stay relaxed.
I used to read a lot of thrillers too. It took me a long time to distinguish between thriller and horror. I like thrillers, but I seem to be really picky, or hard to please. Or I’m just bad at finding good ones. Recently, I’ve felt the need to try again. I can’t watch anything really suspenseful anymore. A lot of story lines are off the table for me. Especially since I’ve had kids, there’s so much more I refuse to expose myself to. But I’ve wanted a good thrill. A darker mystery. So, I picked up The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse. It’s been about two days of reading and I can’t put it down. Ok, so, obviously I can physically put it down, but this seems to be what I was looking for and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. There’s enough information being given that my unhealthy anxiety isn’t being disturbed, but there are still so many questions that I’m spurred to keep going, taking in all the clues. It’s the kind of details that put you in the story instead of feeling like an onlooker.
The short version. The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse is a page turner. I’m only halfway in, but I’m hopeful I’ll be satisfied at the end. It feels good to remember I’m a multifaceted person who hasn’t lost herself. In fact, I am still becoming while remembering who I have always been. What a journey I have had!