Last week’s taste of warmer weather made me think about some of the things I’d like to do inside before the sunshine draws me outdoors.
Reading some of the books added to my collection over the past year would be at the top of the list. One of them, the new autobiography of Mark Twain, is a prodigious tome that will require a real commitment of time. It’s more than 700 pages including the index and extensive bibliography.
It’s hard to justify sitting inside reading a good book when it’s warm and sunny outside. Yes, I know I can read outdoors in good weather, but it’s not the same as winter reading in front of the fireplace or beneath a warm throw or at the kitchen table with a steaming bowl of soup to keep me company.
Except when I’m at the beach, I view reading as an indoor activity. Reading outside is too distracting. The buzz of a passing bee, the rush of a hummingbird, a spider spinning its silky trap with great industry — each gives me an excuse to set aside my book and focus on what’s going on around me. Attention deficit problems are not the exclusive domain of children.
Getting started is my difficulty. It’s as though I’m 12 again, and I’m being punished by having to read this really long book. Sometimes, before I read a single word, I check how many pages are involved and how many of them are pictures. Sound like your seventh-grader?
You might conclude that I dislike reading, but you’d be wrong. I love reading. It’s just that I’m naturally curious — easily distracted, if you prefer — and it’s difficult for me to stay on track with a book when I might be missing out on something else.
It doesn’t help that I read a lot as part of my job. It takes some shifting of mental gears to read for fun and edification rather than for misspellings, typographical errors and libel.
Reading is one of the few things I miss about commuting to work. I burned through many books on cassettes and CDs when I used to drive nearly 80 miles a day.
I liked the idea of turning my boring ride into something productive and entertaining. Without an hour and a half in the car each day, however, I have to find other times for reading.
And I will. Besides the Twain book, I’ve got some local history books I want to read because I want to know more about the community where I live, and I have a big pile of mysteries that I’ve never cracked, even though I love whodunnits.
So before the peepers sing again, I hope to catch up on Twain and on the story of the Historic Stockade.
There’s also a funny book — at least I think it’s funny — about these guys from the city who moved upstate to operate a goat farm.
My plan is to set aside some time each day for reading. As long as I don’t allow myself to be distracted, and give reading the priority it deserves, it should be an effective strategy.
But it can’t be in the morning because I’m buried in the morning newspapers then, and I’m at the office all day so it can’t be then. Maybe sometime before bed would make sense.
I figure as long as I’m not busy with other projects, my goal of reading more should be easy to reach.
There is this wedding that I’m involved in planning right now, but that shouldn’t take much time, right?
Irv Dean is the Gazette's city editor. Reach him by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.