Nothing is better than Christmas break. The days are full of a lot of time reading in jammies on the couch. Tuesday, December 29 was one of those days. I snuggled up on the couch, the sun streamed through the bow window, there was a wool throw over my lap, and the dog was cuddled up against my side. Christmas carols played through the speakers. And most importantly, I was reading a book that had thoroughly absorbed my imagination: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.
The day promised to be great.
Except, it wasn’t. After reading for about two hours, I found myself putting the book down. I went into the kitchen to grab a drink. Then I read a few pages and put the book down to check email. Then I read a few more pages and put the book down to check Facebook. Then I read a few pages and got up to get some Christmas cookies. Then I read a few more pages and put the book down to refill my drink.
I was getting frustrated with myself. Each time I put the book down–a book I really loved–I had to move the dog, and then re-settle myself. Just as I was slowly absorbed back into the book, I jumped out of that world.
The next time I put the book down, I just sat for a minute. I needed a chance to pause and reflect. I was never going to finish the book if I kept putting it down every five pages.
And the lightbulb switched on.
I picked up the book again, flipped to my book mark–which is nothing more than a fancy word for whatever scrap was laying around that could be used to mark my place–and looked at the number of pages I had left in the book.
It was just what I thought.
I was sabotaging my own reading. I had been living in a world that I didn’t want to end, and so I was prolonging my time in the world. And by prolonging my time in the world, I was purposely slowing down my reading, which was also ruining the process of reading for me.
I sat there on the couch in the sun for a moment and decided on a plan. I wanted to finish the book, so I needed to stop the distraction. I told myself I was going to finish the book before I got off the couch again. I also told myself that finishing the book meant that I was going to end my time with the characters. And that was okay. My reading time with the characters might be over, but my time with the characters and the book wasn’t. Part of reading is that I could take the story and the emotions I had while reading with me wherever I went. If I really needed to be back in that space, I could reread the book–even though I don’t often reread. I could engage in conversation with others who read the book. There was a lot I could do that would make the reading experience last.
Reminding myself of those things, I curled back up under the blanket. The dog, who had gotten annoyed with my fidgeting and left, came back over to me and snuggled against my side. I opened up the book again. And this time, I sank back into the pages because I gave myself permission for the book not to be over when I finished reading it.