Remaking a reader

I woke up this morning to – well, I woke up this morning to the usual screaming cat alarm and subsequent trample over my slumbering body, but after I shut her up satisfied her needs THEN I woke up to declarations of today’s designation. So bizarre, this marketer’s world of #NationalRedBikeDay and Happy International Black (not red!) Peppercorn (not ground!) Day! I’m not complaining because it’s mostly harmless, it’s made mostly fun and I never find it too invasive, though I do roll my eyes sometimes. It’s just strange. But today, TODAY! has a couple of pretty cool designations according to celebrants in my Twitter feed.

National picnic day!

This is not to be confused with INTERNATIONAL Picnic Day which, as we all know, falls on the much more reasonable June 18th. (Seriously, my first thought was that I loved the optimism, but there was no way I’d be able to observe National Picnic Day today! Missed the mark on that one, NPD organizers. Someone had to say it.

But, I mean, let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love a good picnic?

Here’s the DAY that really got my attention:

world book day!

Okay, when I first saw it, it had been a little bit rebranded by a pretty well known and successful book selling chain as CANADA BOOK DAY, but it became clear, and rather quickly, that this was something we Canadians would be sharing with the rest of the world and as we should be.

Books have been on mind a lot lately. I’m just coming out of a period of YEARS when reading was something that I just couldn’t do. I always blamed it on The Hunger Games because the last book I’d read before my inner reader went MIA was the third book. And I hate to shit on something that someone has poured their heart and soul into, but that book was BAAAAAAAD. It broke me. I should never have forced myself to read it to the end, but I did and then there I was: a former bookworm paralyzed by the one thing that used to make me most happy.

This quote spoke to me when I read Big Little Liars (Read it! The book is so much better than
the TV series, though the series really did redeem itself in the final episode.) earlier this year

Now, it’s been five or maybe six years and I’ve only managed to finish about as many books. I started warming up to reading again last year, but now I’m happy to report that I am slowly getting back into my groove again. I set my Goodreads Challenge at reading 18 books this year and am seven so far. (Stats are a bit skewed since I tend to read many books at the same time.) Thing is, I really had to make a conscious effort to bring books back into my life. I understand how people who don’t like to read continue to not be readers – the only things I had going for me were my nostalgic tendencies and my memory of loving to read.

Here are a few of the things I did.

  • Took electronics out of the bedroom. There are a zillion reasons (here are eleven) why you should do this, too, even if you never want to read another book again. But if you do want to become a reader, ditch the phone and tablet before bedtime.
  • Planned to read before bed. I set an alarm on my phone that went off one hour before the ideal time when I wanted to be asleep. This allowed me the time to get changed, brush my teeth, do my whole bedtime ritual and still left me with at least thirty minutes to read.
  • Scheduled reading time. I had a terrible habit of spending my lunch time at my desk, poring over emails while shoving food into my mouth. That’s no break! Instead, I closed my office door, physically moved myself away from my desk, left my phone beside my keyboard, sat at my meeting table or a bench in another room and ate my lunch and read. And you know what? It was a nice little escape from the day. (I made a point of reading fiction in these circumstances.)
  • Develop discerning taste. Don’t try to read everything. Put a book down if you aren’t into it. Take recommendations only from people you trust. (And if those people fail you, remember it for next time!)
  • Take a book everywhere. I don’t generally bring a bag with me when I go out (that’s what pockets are for!) so this was another habit that needed to be changed. If I took a bag, it was usually a backpack so tucking a book in there was never a big deal. When I wasn’t carrying my backpack, I started bringing a reusable shopping bag with me and emptying my pockets into it so the book wasn’t the only thing in there. Having a book with me means I could steal moments to read – during transit, while waiting for an appointment or to meet a friend – you’d be surprised how often you have an extra few minutes to spare!
  • Tried new things. I’ve read a few books lately that I never would have expected to read, let alone enjoy. I also read a book on my iPad, something I never thought I would be able to do, but that I quite enjoyed. (I know it contradicts my first point, but is it ever convenient when you’re out of the house and don’t have a book if you also put the book on your phone!)
  • Rekindled my Goodreads. I’ve had my account for centuries and I’ve burnt it down and built it back up a number of times (seems to be my social media MO.) Getting reconnected there and tracking my reading, exploring others’ bookshelves, reading reviews of books I thought I might be into and getting recommendations really fueled my reading fire.

Here’s the one bonus that I found in going through a reading slump: my attachment to books has waned dramatically. I used to not be able to part with a book – any book. Now I keep very few that I have already read. Technology probably plays a role in that, too, but I am really happy I surrendered my attachment to books.

Here’s a look at my current bedside stack. I’m reading four, writing in one and excited to dive into all the others.

Have you ever gone through a reading slump? How do you make sure to include reading in your life? What are you reading these days? Also, let’s be friends on Goodreads!

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And if neither picnics nor books are your thing, there is still plenty to celebrate and/or observe today!

According to Days of the Year, it’s:

It’s also Vancouver Sun Run day here and, according to National Day Calendar, it’s National Cherry Cheesecake Day. I’m not sure which nation that governs, but, for today, can’t we all just be one? They offer this helpful advice on how to observe: eat cherry cheesecake. (But make sure you leave some room for National Pigs in a Blanket Day tomorrow!)

Here’s another April 23rd day I can really get behind:

I couldn’t resist the urge to look up what is celebrated on my birthday. We have the cruel irony of Bacon Day and Falling Needles Family Fest Day which is “a reminder for those of us who enjoyed a live Christmas tree over the holidays to clean it up and recycle it.” There is also National Bicarbonate of Soda Day and I guess that is probably my most holy since I do actually use the stuff pretty regularly.

What are you celebrating today? What days are celebrated on your birthday?