Maybe Your Brain Isn't Fried - Maybe You Just Aren't Exercising It {Read More Books!}

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

On the first day of 2016, I declared that this would be my "Year of Reading" - I made this declaration in no small part because I knew I needed some sense of accountability in order to reboot my system and get back into the habit of reading. But not just reading for the sake of reading, reading good books that would require more than a little brainpower to process.

There are affiliate links in this post, and the proceeds will very likely go towards getting more books.

Dare I say... It's going really well? I'm tracking my progress on Goodreads, and have decided to stop being embarrassed by the fact that I'm currently reading 5 books (plus one that I'm reading aloud with the big kids).

To be completely honest, I've only actually *finished* two books. Both fiction. But Kristin Lavransdatter technically counts as 3, right?

And the baby wanted to get me to kick start my spiritual reading,,,

What I'm learning, though, in trying to get myself back into the habit both of reading more books and of reading more good books, is that perhaps my excuse of my brain being "too fried" to read was faulty.

I don't think my brain was fried - I think I just wasn't exercising it enough.

It's awfully convenient to use those little margins for mindless scrolling, clicking this, that, or the other "edifying" (or perhaps just politically enraging) article and pretending that you're educating yourself. It is, however, similarly convenient to pick up one of those books you've been reading for a few minutes, read a few paragraphs or pages, and come away from that brief respite affirmed, enlightened, thoughtful, truly educated.

I'm finding that the more time I spend reading, the more time I want to spend reading, and the easier it is to spend time reading. And having 5 books going at the same time makes it easy to find the one that fits the mood, because while I may not be in the mood to muddle through Middlemarch while the kids are awake (which I'm really enjoying, but it took me a little while to get used to the relative complexity of the language compared to fluff fiction), one of my many other books will probably hit the spot.

Hannah Coulter gave me an appetite for Wendell Berry that will probably not be assuaged until I've read every one of his works. I've moved on to a book of his essays on agriculture, The Unsettling of America, and it's amazing. Like, affirming my life choices, makes me want to be a better person, educates me every time I crack open the book.

For the Children's Sake is just as amazing as everyone said it would be - I find myself wanting to just grab the author and hug her and say, "Yes!! Yes! These are the things that I want in my life, these are the things I want for my children and my family and you are telling me how to do it!" Is it a detailed blueprint? No. But the perfect read for where we are in terms of education and family life right now (and a reader suggested to me that this is really more a parenting book than a homeschooling book - I completely agree. These are lessons that can be applied across the board, whether you homeschool or don't.).

The Out-of-Sync Child is providing me with answers I didn't know I needed years ago when I was convinced one of my children would grow out of certain quirks (and then didn't). I'm hopeful that it will help us figure out how to go forward, and I'm gaining a better understanding of those kids you see who seem a little "off" - there are so many neurological things that can be going on, I had no idea!

And last, I'm really enjoying sharing little anecdotes from Story of a Soul with the children. St. Therese is my confirmation saint and would you believe I've never read this? I think I psych myself out of doing any sort of spiritual reading because I assume it will be too mentally taxing. This book is not mentally taxing. I've just lied to myself for all these years, and am finally catching up with the fact that maybe my brain wasn't as fried as I thought it was.

My list of books to read is growing longer, but my free time isn't. And yet I'm still managing to find time to read and do everything else I was doing before. Because all that my reading is replacing is the time I was wasting. And I think my brain is much better off for it.

Tell me I'm not the only one - have you gone through reading droughts? Convinced yourself that you *couldn't* read good books because you just didn't have the brainpower to process them? Start small - don't be afraid to read fluff, just get back in the habit of reading!

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