To celebrate (I know, so much celebration around here) the end of my Spring Semester, I’m launching into a serious run of reading for fun. It’s not that I don’t find my work fun (I do, I really, really do!), but sometimes it’s kind of nice to just be able to read a book and not have to think too deeply about the details and connections and intertextual significance. Sometimes when I get really bogged down in a specific project or text, I forget why I love my job, why I love teaching, why I want to write, and why I love reading.
And occasionally, I forget that I’m actually pretty good at these things. After a few days of slowly crawling my way through Kant and getting nowhere, I forget what it feels like to read so easily it’s like breathing. At those times, it’s good to pick up something fun, or something familiar, just to remind myself that – hey, I do know how to read! I didn’t forget!
It gets hard to find time for those reminders when school is in session and I’m trying to balance research reading, paper writing, and conference travel with reading for classes, planning lectures, and grading. Almost everything I read is chosen for some instrumental purpose. I can let a few fun pieces slip in here and there, but just not enough. Now that classes are over, I’m really excited to engage in some purely consumptive reading.
Here’s a sample of what I’ve got going on:
1) I just finished my Earth Day read, Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing a New Domesticity, by Emily Matchar. It was great! There’s a lot of repetitive fluff in the first couple of chapters, and then at the beginning and end of each chapter, but the core material is really interesting and thought-provoking. In fact, this first attempt at reading for fun has led to a new paper idea. Oh well. I’m trying!
2) Now I’m moving onto J.R.R. Tolkien, a Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter. While some of the details I learn may inform my thinking a little as I delve deeper in Tolkien scholarship, my focus is primarily philosophical, so I probably won’t ever quote from this text, so it totally counts.
3 & 4) Boccaccio’s The Decameron. I’m auditing a course on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (so I get to read that too!) with the Mythgard Institute, and we’re using it to help set up some interesting points of comparison. I’m so excited to be sitting in on this course and just soaking up the interesting bits and pieces.
5) And since reading and writing (and researching and grading) are basically sedentary activities, I’m also going to be reading Sarah Wilson’s book, I Quit Sugar. There’s a zero percent chance it’ll stick, but I think reading about it will help me make better, healthier food choices to pair with my strict regimen of sitting.
Once I get through these, I’ll let my mood dictate what I pick up next. I think I’m feeling something sciencey, or perhaps a buffet of middle grade novels that came out recently and look amazing (like this one). Or maybe The Odyssey. I’ve got some long plane rides coming up, and that would fill the time nicely.