On December 12th, 2016, I made the choice to leave my husband and partner of nine years. The decision to move felt sudden; we had been so happy for so long. All of that fall I’d had new experiences; crying myself to sleep, wondering where my husband was, feeling so angry I worked myself into a panic. We had been close– we’d embraced the term Life Partner long before we were engaged or married. Then, in one horrible instant, it was irrevocably over. I had to go.
I moved into my own apartment. I had never lived alone before. At first it was so painful and lonely, I barely knew what to do with myself. For a long time I couldn’t even bring myself to cook, it seemed too domestic a thing to do on my own. What I found I could do was read. So I read. I read a lot. But you can’t literally carry a paper book or an e-reader all around your house while cleaning and getting ready. The silence was stifling. After cohabitating for almost ten years, my new home felt deathly silent. I started listening to audio-books to fill the air.
My tall ceilings echoed with stories, wrapping me with the glowing comfort of other people’s imaginations. I cleaned and unpacked and decorated with words washing over me. Characters kept me company as I built a new life.
Even as things got better, I continued to read frantically. I met my original 2017 book goal of 104 books just before my 30th birthday in August. Having finally recovered some confidence in myself, I took up a new challenge– 200 books before the new year. That knocked me up to the blistering pace of a book almost every other day.
I do have a full time job, and several community activities, and friends, and a family, and now even a new significant other. As much as I sometimes wanted to, hermiting myself away and reading all day was never an option.
I listened to audio-books in my car and whenever I did any cleaning. I read paper books at home in my downtime, and e-books when I was out and about, stuck in a line, or on break at work, or in the car. I used to be a one-book-at-a-time sort of reader, now I always had three volumes in rotation.
I loved devouring all of those books, and I felt a certain sense of pride every time I told someone how many I’d read so far this year. But I also missed re-reading, I missed being able to take that time in between particularly good books to just think about them and savor. I missed being able to really choose whatever book I wanted to read because I had so many books checked out from the library and they would have to go back.
My 200 book challenge taught me, more than anything, that reading is something I do because I love it. I read because I love stories. I read because I love to get swept away from everyday life. I don’t want to read to prove anything to anyone, even to myself.
This year I rebuilt my entire life, and it wasn’t easy. Looking back I think sometimes having a strenuous book goal helped me to keep going– I couldn’t lay around crying or binge watch show after show. I had books to read!
I’ll make a book goal next year, but it will be low. My real book goal for 2018 is this blog. I want to be able to enjoy each book and truly reflect on the experience I had reading it. I want to write about each book I read, so that I can share the experience with others.
Happy Early New Year, everyone! Keep reading.