I started grad school last month. Being exposed to completely new concepts, committing them to memory, and then learning how to implement them is a lot for my brain. My brain needs some yoga stretches so I can find space for all this new material!
Over 10 years since my last grad school rodeo, this path invigorates and challenges. I barely keep up with everything – even though I’m trying my hardest and writing more “To Do” lists than ever. I love writing lists, though, so maybe I should have started grad school sooner!
Even with all the homework and required readings, I’m determined to make time for free reading. In the last three years (thanks in large part to my DC Public Library card) I have nibbled away at a book no matter how busy I may think I am.
The way some writers sew ideas and words together awes me. How did this story come out of their head? A good memoir leaves me hearing the writer’s voice clear and true. I love to see linguistic finesse and storytelling skills laid out in writing.
Last week I was out for a grocery run and I stopped at a local bookstore, Capitol Hill Books. They are only allowing people in by appointment, but if the weather is decent they occasionally will set up a limited inventory outside. If I have time, I will check out their titles.
I read a lot of books on Kindle or Libby these days, but I don’t want to lose my page-turning skills. I also like the supporting local places, the ability to pass an actual book on to others, and the opportunity to display specific titles in my Zoom background (kidding!) so I keep a small collection of paper books in my house.
On a previous visit to Capitol Hill Books I picked up Borges and Me, by Jay Parini, along with some Hemingway novel. This visit I ended up with Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, and José Saramago’s Blindness. (Two novels about epidemics. Coincidence? You decide!) I also snapped up a copy of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
Borges asserted that there is no original thought. Everything that there is to be known already exists and we keep repackaging it for ourselves and each other. This belief fascinates me. In a way, I suppose it demystifies creativity.
But in another way, it makes me admire certain writers even more. Their ability to tell a tale in a novel way is both impressive and enviable.
How soon will I be hooked on a book? Page 30? 80? Never? I find myself asking this every time I pick up a new title. The way a good story can lure me in and propel me to keep reading thrills me. Even a few pages before bed helps me relax and feel better about life most days.
Last time I was in grad school, I only read for work and school. This time I need the escape, the thrills, the fun of free reading. Let me know what’s on your reading list if you have any recommendations!