I have now completed my first readathon. Actually, I think I remember some sort of readathon in elementary school that I looooooved that had some element of competition in it, so maybe this was my second readathon. Either way, I was in my element.
Actually, I didn’t actually spend as much time reading as I thought I would. Wednesday was half over by the time I got around to reading, and I didn’t read much at all on Thanksgiving Thursday. Lots of reading Friday, no reading Saturday. Lots of reading Sunday. So I kind of did an every-other-day-thing, but it was still great to give myself permission to just lounge and read and feel really great about it.
Here are the goals I had for this readathon:
- Read as much of my library books as I can since they are due in early December.
- Read a solid portion of The Way of Kings with James.
- Read one kids’ book.
- Read Martin Marten for book club next week.
- Read something Thanksgiving-y.
And here is the breakdown of my progress:
- Read The Radium Girls in its entirety.
- Read 75 pages of The Way of Kings.
- Read Ellen Tebbits in its entirety.
- Read Martin Marten in its entirety (but AFTER the readathon ended..read this one yesterday and today).
- Read 30 pages of A Renegade History of the United States for my “something Thanksgiving-y.”
Wednesday was dedicated to The Way of Kings and it is a HEFTY book. So it took a long time to read those 75 pages. Tiny font, small margins, huge pages. And I’m still near the beginning of the book and the pace hasn’t picked up yet, so it was a little slow. I didn’t actually read aloud with James though because he actually started a while ago and wants me to catch up to where he was (another 200 pages away) before we read aloud.
Thursday I dedicated to reading my Thanksgiving-y bit and the start of The Renegade History is all I read that day. It’s going to be an interesting book, I think. I like nonfiction and history and definitely like reading about little-known events/movements/groups/subcultures that really shaped the country, which is what this book is all about. This book likely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s not the point. And that’s kind of the point for me. I like trying to see beyond the way we normally see things and history is a big place where the “normal view” is just so widely accepted and narrowly defined that it’s important to push beyond that. I learned some really interesting things in the first 30 pages…like early Americans drank A LOT of alcohol. In some industries employees expected to get beer breaks in the afternoons–and the beer was provided by their employer. And the workers determined when they would work rather than the employer, which I thought was pretty cool. The author sometimes pushes how we “should” celebrate some group or anther a little too much for me at times, but I’m interested enough in the new take on pre- and early America that I’ll likely let it pass. It did make me think of this country and all the large and small things that have and continue to shape the story of this country. This is an interesting place. And there’s danger in the single story of this place–it is more than one narrative arc. So I was grateful to be looking into more stories, more ways of seeing, more ideas of America and its creation.
Friday I read Ellen Tebbits in the morning. It was fun and fast and just what I expected…but with a little more 50’s culture than I remember being in the Ramona series. Just gender things and working mom things and probably a few other things that I don’t remember now. It’s interesting to read a kids’ book for simple pleasure and also be reminded that it is also a cultural artifact.
Once I finished that one I moved on to The Radium Girls. James asked me how I liked it while I was reading it, and I said I don’t know if that’s the way I can describe this book or books like this–it’s not a necessarily pleasurable experience the way that “liking” something might connote. I appreciate the story, I very much value these girls, I think this story is important. I was of course rooting for them and sad with them and appalled with them and felt betrayed with them and anger for them and sad foreboding for them. I wildly admire their continued, united legal action in the face of a huge adversary and also in light of their culture’s view of women and so many other things. So many good things exist in our law today because of these girls. That said, the book was overwritten. The writing got in the way of the story at times, which was powerful enough on its own and didn’t need the extra cheap drama or sentimentalism. It was annoying but still not a deal-breaker, so there’s that.
And that’s all the reading I did during the actual readathon! I was glad I gave myself so many options–I never used to like to read multiple books at a time, but now I like the freedom. In the future I’d choose shorter books–all of the ones I read were pretty dense and not huge page-turners (except Ellen, of course), so that slowed me down some. I would have enjoyed finishing more books, just because I like to. And if I’m imposing a deadline, I like to feel like I’m making progress and accomplishing a lot and closing a book is an excellent feeling of accomplishment.
My bonus book was Martin Marten, which I read after the readathon period ended, but I just finished it so I’ll mention a few quick things while I’m talking books. READ THIS SLOWLY. I wanted to finish it before book club tonight, so I read right up until I had to leave for book club and I started it yesterday. This book is 300 pages, but you really cannot read it as quickly as I did and come out better than you would had you slowed down. It begs for savoring, for a slow devouring. It’s an interesting book in that it doesn’t have the typical central character or story line or much of a story arc to speak of–I’d say it’s more the story of a place–a mountain and a river valley–and the lives that are lived there. We follow quite a few characters throughout the book over the same period of time, but there are also lots of offshoot stories that fit in just because they were lives that lived in this place. As a writer, I found that interesting. At times it was a little too didactic for me, and I thought all of the characters were incarnations of Brian Doyle (who I love, so that’s nice, but it was a little overwhelming and didn’t ring true and complex enough for me), but I feel like I would have enjoyed all of that more had I given myself a long time to read this. Like, two months, maybe three. This is a book about a mountain that is like being in the mountains: slow, quiet, a smorgasbord of a zillion interesting sensory experiences and billions of interwoven lives and their stories–even when we’re not aware of them.
So that’s a wrap on my Thanksgiving readathon. Books are the best, and a pleasure I am always grateful for. I love learning, I love feeling, I love entering new worlds, I love the swish of the page turning, the coziness of my library or couch or anywhere I turn into a Reading Place. I am grateful for books.
Other things I’m grateful for this year:
- Maeby. I know they say dogs are man’s best friend, and this girl really is my best friend. Love her way more than I thought I could love an animal. She’s around me all day and still gets crazy excited to see me if I leave for 20 minutes.
- Friends. I’ve been making a more deliberate effort to populate my life with meaningful relationships and it makes me grateful for the good people in the world and that I get to know them.
- Family. This is an “of course” one, but I love my crazy families. It’s nice to have three families now: Bradys, Tidwells, and me and James.
- Holidays. I’m so, so ready for Christmas season this year! Moving out of a basement really amped my holiday cheer and I am loving this feeling. And there is so much of it.
- James. I married a guy who is kind and generous and good and who makes my life a million times more fun than it would be otherwise. I am thankful for that. And just for who he is. He is a wonder.
- My health. Every Thanksgiving reminds me of the 2009 Thanksgiving when I sat in a chair for the first time in a month after being bedridden with a bad go with Crohn’s. I remember the joy of sitting in a chair. The joy of sitting at the table with everyone else instead of lying on the couch in the adjacent living room. I remember the wild moment of not being able to lift a glass bowl filled with probably mashed potatoes, how that inability to heft a bowl laid bare the fragility of body, the quickness of descent, but also my presence at the table clarified the elasticity of the body, the promise of returning strength and health one day. I always think of that Thanksgiving this time of year and I’m glad for the health I enjoy now; even if it’s not perfect health, I can heft potatoes.
- I’m grateful for the fact that we get to choose so much of what we have in our lives and who we have in our lives and how we experience our lives. I’m grateful for change and how crazy it is that humans can change. What an awesome concept. The evolution of the individual is something that fascinates me and drives me. I’m grateful to be able to evolve.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and I hope you got to read some books!