The Frenetic Reading Life, or Reading in My Thirties


Confession: I am a book adulterer. In my teens and 20’s, school reading aside, I was strictly monogamous. I picked up a book and stuck with it till the end, even if I wasn’t really feeling it. I didn’t even look at another book until I was done with the current one. I held a moment of silence at the close of each book before seeking my next one.

Then came my thirties. I had a baby. I was in graduate school. The word “projects” (as in, So what projects are you working on?) has become a regular part of my vocabulary. Everything’s sped up. Now life just seems too short to take it one book at a time.

So right now I’m sampling six books. It’s like a book buffet; I just want to taste them all.

I’ll start with a chapter of Tariq Ramadan’s In The Footsteps of the Prophet to feed my soul first. Then switch up with Camille Helminski’s Women of Sufism because it’s filled with a past and present tradition I knew little about and lots of spiritual gems to savor.

Then I’m working three desserts: Zorro by Isabel Allende (second read, I love her writing), The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (because there’s always room for magical realism), and Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones, a heavy hitter of race and class in an immigrant coming-of-age story. Depending on which one tugs at me the most, I’ll likely finish these one by one.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is the side dish, the lagniappe, the ehh, why not? It’s exactly the type of book I would normally skip over so of course I had to check it out. I may just take a few bites or poke around till I feel like I’m done. Because that’s the plus side of the frenetic reading life: I’m ok with not finishing a book. Life goes on.

The 30’s reading life is what it is. So many books, so little time. I imagine when I hit my 50’s maybe I’ll revert back to the monogamy of my 20’s, when life slows down. It’s hard to imagine now. But hey, even now, all I need is a book, one book, and I’ve got a full meal.

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