Yup, reading. The thing I do every single day of the year in small doses I have maxed out on this last month and a half. To date, I have consumed since July 1: Margaret Atwood’s brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale, Julian Barnes’s Man Booker Prize winning A Sense of an Ending, Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, and half of through Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land. I have also started and am thoroughly enjoying James McBride’s runaway slave tale Song Yet Sung and (my favorite writer) David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. That’s a pretty impressive bedside table for me.
But why the sudden change in frequency? Why have I suddenly become a voracious reader?
The obvious answer is time. Summer affords teachers the chance to read at night without the pressure of prepping for a day’s lessons. But I have done work, too. I have taught the Cole Summer Writers Institute and done some days of professional development. It’s just different work, more relaxed work. It frees me up to read at night.
But the secondary answer, and one I really feel strongly about, is the desire to hear other voices. Disparate voices. New voices. I spend the better part of every year rereading books that I absolutely love. The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Beloved– I love them all and cherish the time I can spend with them. But to hear new voices, to luxuriate over new stories, now that’s a pleasure. A perk of my career, I guess, although I assume people who aren’t reading for a living (not teachers or editors) can build and tackle their reading lists as they choose to no real detriment to their professional lives other than sleepiness caused by late night reading sessions, is that the summer I can act like a summer reading marauder. I can pillage my list at will, and with abandon…and I have.
I have to. It’s August 11. School starts in three weeks and I haven’t reread Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I should set some time aside for that. It’s also one of my favorites. Ah yes, back to the old grind.
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