Reading Resolution

Reading Resolution

As I’ve mentioned before, I dislike New Year’s resolutions. They’ve always struck me as another mental self-beating-in-the-making when I can’t live up to them. But I’ve been thinking about it, and maybe this year I’ll make an exception. I’m resolving to read more.

You know that almost heart-rending reluctance to put a great book down? How you can’t wait to pick it up again? How about when you spend an entire evening—or an entire weekend—reading? I miss these things!

Getting lost in books

Because really, there’s just nothing like falling into the page. I’ve always thought that phrase describes exactly the special magic that happens when you forget entirely that you’re reading and instead, you become part of the story itself. I’ve spent some of the best times of my life trekking alongside Frodo and his friends during their Middle Earth adventures, courtesy of J.R.R. Tolkien; laughing (and crying) in the world of Fred Gipson’s Old Yeller; and being scared out of my wits with the Torrance family at Stephen King’s ominously ghost-ridden Overlook Hotel. I can still see those topiary animals coming to malicious life in the corner of Jack’s eye.

Now, it’s not that I don’t read much these days—I do. But because I do most of it online, for work or because I’m an insatiable political news-freak, the only time I “read” fiction is for an hour or so before bed. I put quotation marks around the word “read” because what I’m really talking about is “listening.” I almost always listen to an audio book before I go to sleep at night.

RA means its difficult to hold the books

Rheumatoid disease has made it nearly impossible for me to hold a cardboard/paper/ink (does “analog” work here?) book open for more than a couple of minutes. It simply causes my hands to hurt too much. Listening to audio books over the last several years has kept my old love for reading alive.

But audiobooks do have their drawbacks. For me, the person reading the story must “fit” it. If the fit isn’t right, that person’s voice prevents me from making that sublime drop into the page. Or, because I can’t skim the first several pages of the book before I purchase it, I don’t find out until I listen that the book is full of wooden dialogue or mind-numbingly purple prose.

E-books

I also read e-books. This is much easier on my hands than a real book, but this technology, too, has its drawbacks for me. I have a hard time staying focused on a screen, as opposed to a page. Again, I find it hard to make that imaginary shift from the here-and-now into the different here-and-now of the world inside the book. And because I don’t see and read the cover of the book each time I pick it up, I tend to forget its title—and maybe even the name of the author. As a writer, I can’t help but think that both are sins. How can I recommend the book to a friend if I can’t recall its title or who wrote it? How can I do proper homage to the author?

Still, both audiobooks and e-books are much better than not reading at all. So, I’m resolved. I’m going to carve out another two or three hours a week just for reading. I’m resolved to staying with my e-books until the end. Maybe I’ll write the title and author down before I start so I have record. Unlike reading the news on the internet, I’ll keep reading my book, rather than flitting from one story to the next. I’ll stop expecting instant gratification and give the book time to develop its story, to build its world. It’ll take some practice, but I can do it.

Here’s the other reason I want to read more. Reading a good book is a tried-and-true form of alternative pain therapy for me. Reading—and living for a while in some other world—distracts me from the near-constant joint pain my RD causes, whether it’s in my hands, my knees, or my elbows. I can read when I’m fatigued or otherwise not feeling at the top of my game.

And I’m always anxious to pick a good book up again, unlike other forms of alternative pain therapy, like exercise, paraffin baths, or eating right. Those are good in their own ways, but as far as I’m concerned, they’ll never take the place of a good story, told well.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (9)
  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    11 months ago

    The first book I ever truly melted into was Lord of the Rings, then Harry Potter. I re-read both series every year!.

    I also read E-books, I use a library app on my iPad but I also have the same issue of not being able to focus well with a screen.

    Nowadays there are plenty of sites that offer free books — Could you maybe copy and paste them into Word and print it out with larger font? You wouldn’t have to hold the paper the same way and without the screen?

  • Carla Kienast
    11 months ago

    When I retired, I made the resolution to break out of my rut of reading a handful of the popular fiction writers and add more non-fiction to my reading menu. In order to do this, I browse the New York Times Top 10 Books list every week and pick out books to add to my reading list. I have found books and new authors that I’ve loved but would have never found had I not started this routine. With my reading app on my phone and my e-reader next to my bed, I can often find even a few minutes every day to read — because my book is always with me. Where do I read the most? Waiting in the doctor’s office. So, yes, I read a lot of books. (Sigh …) But yes. With my nose in my book, other things — like pain — don’t bother me (as much)!

  • Wren moderator author
    11 months ago

    Hi, Carla!
    Yep, nothing like losing oneself in a good book for distraction from pain–and other parts of life, in general. I can get in so deep that I don’t even hear people talking to me! I like the idea of perusing the NYT Top 10 each week. It’s a great way to stretch the mind and the reading muscles! 😉

  • Anke Schliessmann
    11 months ago

    I like reading quite a lot as well, and when I turn to read “real” books sometimes my “leselotte” helps to hold the book for me. Those are handmade and sold by an online-store in Germany and I don’t know if they sell abroad or if there is something similar outside Germany. I add the link here so you can have a look at the pictures and see if that might help you. Maybe you know someone who can produce a kind of “leselotte”.
    “http://www.leselotte.de”

  • Wren moderator author
    11 months ago

    ‘tag, Anke!
    Thank you for the excellent book-holder suggestion. While I was unable to figure out a way to get a leselotte for myself, I did do an Amazon search for other types of book holders. Looks like there are several available that might be worth a try.
    Danke, too, for taking the time to comment. I do appreciate it! Wishing you well! 🙂

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    11 months ago

    Book holders are a great idea! I am going to take a look into them as well. Thanks, Wren!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    11 months ago

    I am reading the history of the civil war by Shelby Foote. It is one of the most dense books I have ever read. After two weeks I am on page 204 of 826. Gulp. It is seriously dense, not unlike my cousin Oscar. If I had to carry this thing around I would get seriously tired.

    OK, never mind I am seriously tired.

  • Wren moderator author
    11 months ago

    Hi, Rick!
    Well, if you get tired of reading all that civil war seriousness, you can use that massive book as a serious-style doorstop, right? Or to hold yourself down in a high wind. Or to keep the back end of your car from sliding around on icy streets. And then you can take a nap …
    OK, I’ll stop now. 😉 As always, thanks for reading and commenting! You make me smile! 😀

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    11 months ago

    Hey do you know my cousin Oscar? Now there is a paperweight.

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