My summer reading plan is more of a how and when, than a what. But first, some background is in order. I love to read, it is an inherited trait from my mother. She was my first storyteller, the first person to read to me and the first person to take me to a book store and buy me grown up books.
We went to Saltmarsh’s, a book and stationary store in downtown New Bedford. New paperbacks cost an average of 35 cents in those days. She decided that I would like to read “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Bronte, and she was right. I also came home that day with a copy of “Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell,” and I loved reading Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.”
Fast forward thirty plus years: one of the many blessings in my marriage is that my husband and I are both readers. There were times in our early marriage when we would read the same book. I called it a game of “dueling bookmarks” because I could read when he was driving, he read when I was cooking. In general though, we do not have similar tastes in books. But we have often sat at the dinner table or in the living room reading, and it has always struck me as feeling very companionable.
Clergy, and other Professionals Need to be Readers
In college and seminary, much of my reading was limited to course work and sermon writing. Each class syllabus contained an average of five to six books that were required reading. Unfortunately for me, I never learned to skim or speed read. I was too afraid I would miss something important. So I did my best to read everything that was required, skipping some things, I am only human.
Other resources that were used to write papers, I read just what was necessary. In addition to that reading though, a certain amount of reading is necessary in sermon preparation. There I do not attempt to read entire books, that would be impossible, but I do my best to read the relevant sections of three to five resources (commentaries).
That being said, much of my professional life has left little time for recreational reading, except…except for my audio book addiction. The first few years of college I listened to recorded lectures. By the time I graduated from college (at 49 years old) and started seminary (a three hour drive one way) I had three library cards to support my books on tape habit. In those days they were cassettes.
I would listen to history and some theology or philosophy, but most of my listening while driving was a variety of fiction books. Vacations were made for fiction, my favorite detective novels are a must and if they contain recipes, so much the better.
Being a pastor who preaches on average forty-eight Sundays a year, I have to be a reader. Sermons do not write themselves
Writers Need to be Readers; Bloggers Need to Read Other Bloggers
At this semi-retired stage of my life, I have more opportunity to read, but frequently struggle to make the time. I continue to listen to audio books when driving, even driving short distances when I am alone. Vacations are still made for fiction, although my recent vacation I made an uncharacteristic switch to non-fiction.
I still try to use at least three resources for sermon writing. I try to read at least five other blog posts, some weeks pushing it up to a lot more, depending on how many link parties I join. A link party is a meet up where bloggers share a post and hope that other bloggers will read and comment on our writing. In return, we do the same. While I consider this due diligence, it is not a dull or dry experience at all. Reading other bloggers had net me a sense of community made up of writers from around the world, that never would have happened any other way.
My Summer Reading Plan
Have I told you that I love television? Anyone who knows me well, even many of my parishioners could tell you what my most watched television shows are, and I do not mind watching repeats repetitively. Sometimes when you do that, you catch nuances that you missed the third or fourth time around. There is this other complication. I am easily distracted. When I sit down for some downtime, I am likely to bring along choices, as many as three or four possibilities and still reach for the remote.
This summer I have decided to turn over a new leaf. While I will continue listening to audio books when driving, I need more actual reading time. So my summer reading plan is this: to simply substitute watching repeats of my favorite shows with reading. That should net me eight to ten hours each week, of sitting with a book or e-book in my hand., enriching and feeding a need in my life. That is my how and my when.
One of my goals is to list the books I have read, title, author and date read. I know there are apps for this, but I am an old-fashioned girl. While I use technology to the best of my ability in pursuit of contact with family and friends and also for ministry needs, I like nothing better than to take a pen and notebook and write. I write my sermon research notes, and I handwrite my much shorter preaching notes. I hand write my journal entries, so I will do that with at least a log of my summer reading.
This may be a recurring post and I may tell you what I am reading and what I like about it. If so, it will not be a traditional book review. There are many bloggers I know who do those very well, and others who will still read rings around me, despite the addition of eight to ten hours of reading time each week.
Vacation afforded me the opportunity to finish reading a book I had begun several months ago, but set aside. It was the story of the marriage of Martin Luther and Katherina Bora. Katherina and Martin Luther: The Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Radical Monk, by Michelle DeRusha www.michelederusha.com. I was able to find a quote from Martin Luther that I heard in seminary, but out of context, and the book filled in some information about the harshness of women’s lives in that time period and gave me a greater sense of gratitude for the freedoms I have. But I also found much of it shocking. I may have set the book down initially because I found it slow going, but this time around I was captivated. Favorite quote from Martin Luther? “Marriage is a chancy thing.” Agreed.
The first book that I started and finished! in this regime is blogger Liesbet Collaret’s first book, Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary (I tried, valiantly, to be able to post the book covers for these two books, but got stuck on the technology. I hope you will take the time to look them up.)
I hated to put it down and couldn’t wait to pick it up again, to see what happened next. In the course of reading this book I have smiled, smirked, laughed, wept, worried and wondered. She has a way of bringing you into the story and sharing a bit of interior monologue as well. You just might want to read it with a handkerchief, to wipe away the salt water from the waves and wind, to wipe the occasional tears from your eyes, or to cover your mouth in mock shock. Seriously though, I was struck with admiration for her knowledge and ability to do the work of sailing, in partnership with her husband Mark. Liesbet blogs at Roaming About.
Wish me luck?
Not holding back the tide,
Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com
Linking up with Denyse Whelan (#Life This Week) Natalie the Explorer’s #Weekend Coffee Share and Esme’s Senior Salon