How I Stopped Reading


It was a winter quarter back in my college days. In my haste to wrap up my major level classes, I eagerly signed up for all three courses offered without fully examining the description of each class. The subject matter alone was simple enough – Americana, 19th Century British Literature, and a course examining the “hard-boiled” novels of the American detective genre.

Had I dared to, oh, I don’t know, exercise my ability to read English, I would have quickly realized I signed away every single cell in my brain for the winter quarter.

When I showed up for registration, it still didn’t hit me. In fact, it didn’t hit me until I made it to the bookstore. I handed my class list to the student helper behind the counter and assumed the “I’ll just wait here forever” stance. The student looked at my classes then back at me then back at my class list. Her eyes grew large. She stepped away from the counter and whispered to someone, pointing at my list.

Shit.

They both scurried into action, grabbing books from all over the place, glancing at me in the midst of the insanity.

At the end of the mad rush amidst the books stocked for the quarter, they handed me no less than 18 novels.

I’m going to type that again so it sinks into your brain.

They handed me no less than 18 novels.

EIGHTEEN NOVELS.

EIGHTEEN.

FOR NINE WEEKS OF SCHOOL.

These were not light novels, not the romantic sweep you off your feet beach books you schlepp along with you to the doctor’s office or somewhere else you can quickly catch a glimpse of heaving bosoms.

No. These were books like Sister Carrie by Dreiser, The Rise of Silas Lapham by Howells, David Copperfield by Dickens, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Radcliffe, The Maltese Falcon by Hammett, Night Train by Amis, Child of God by McCarthy, and McTeague by Norris among others I’m sure I’ve long forgotten for a number of reasons.

I read two novels a week for the first four weeks. Then, my brain, in the middle of the night, turned off. It refused to send signals to my fingers to enable me to open a book. I tried, desperately, to crack open another book but all that happened was me, sitting there, holding the book, words swirling about in my head as my brain constantly signaled it was filled to capacity with knowledge.

I managed to scan the required sections of the remaining books but couldn’t bring myself to read the entire novels for the remainder of the quarter. In fact, I did not read a complete reputable book for over five years. That’s right. Me. The girl with a degree in English Literature, did not touch a single book for over five years.

Talk about being completely out of my element. I started writing when I was six. I devoured books as if they were smarties while growing up. But there was something about being forced to read 18 hardcore novels in such a short span time which killed a breaker in the “I love books” part of my brain.

In the past couple of weeks, I have devoured two books. One of them was only 87 pages long but it was by far the most difficult of all the books. It is both exhilarating and wonderful to be reading at this pace again. I find myself looking forward to opening books again, which is a pleasant surprise.

There’s only one caveat to this rediscovered love of reading – I will only read books made from dead trees. No ebooks for this gal, no sir. 100% dead tree for me or no words at all. That’s my dedication to books and I’m sticking to it.

Guest Post: Amber Koter-Puline’s “Banding Together Over Books – The Warrior Mom Book Club”


Continuing this week’s theme of celebrating National Book Month, Amber Koter-Puline of Beyond Postpartum shares about The Warrior Mom Book Club. It’s worth checking out! I thank Amber for her dedication to families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. She truly is an inspiration on so many levels! Without further ado, here is Amber’s guest post:

 

This summer I began hosting a new feature at Postpartum Progress: the Warrior Mom Book Club. Even just since 2007 when I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety, so much more information, education, and just plain old sharing around women’s mental health has occurred. From books on personal accounts of postpartum depression to the plethora of rockin’ blogs written by Warrior Moms, we have no lack of reading material right at our fingertips.

I don’t know about you, but with so much out there I often have difficulty choosing what to read, especially since I’m a married WAHM of two young boys. I just don’t have time to keep up with all the blog posts, and my stack of books waiting to be read is enormous (both on paper and virtually on my Kindle list).

As members of the Warrior Mom Book Club, we read and have casual talk about what we’ve read, in the midst of our busy lives. We read books about postpartum depression and related illnesses — approximately four books per year — and as a group we do a review after reading each one, which I then write up for Postpartum Progress so that everyone can read it there.

We began the club with Adrienne Martini’s awesome book, Hillbilly Gothic, which I first read when my first son was about two and then again for the club, three years later. I have to say I enjoyed it as much, if not more, the second time! In case you didn’t get a chance to read along with us, you can check it out on Amazon.

Right now we are reading The Ghost in the House by Tracy Thompson.  It’s a really eye-opening account of maternal mental health and its impact on the entire family from both a genetic and environmental perspective.  While the Book Club is currently closed because we’ve already begun work on it, you can still order a digital or paper copy HERE or do what many savvy mamas did with our previous read and order it from your local library.

The review of The Ghost in the House will probably be up at Postpartum Progress in November and then we’ll announce our third read.  Right now we plan to read Sleepless Nights by .  You are welcome to join us for that one.  Once the announcement is made, you can just email me at atlantamom930@gmail.com and join the Facebook Group “Warrior Mom Book Club” which becomes secret while the discussion is happening to protect the privacy of the participants.

We have nearly 50 moms who have participated so far and I look forward to growing the group as the selections change and time goes on.  Here’s what a few moms have to say about their experience as members of the WMBC:

“Being a part of the bookclub has helped me give words or describe some the aimless thoughts/feelings that I had, especially in the deepest part of PPD/OCD/Anxiety that I was unwilling or more likely, unable to speak about, name, and come to terms with.” ~TM

“I have found it invaluable to read these books. I had not read any of the ones that we have read while I was going through my struggle with postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. Reading and reflecting on the books is helping me continue my recovery process. The book club offers me the ability to read other’s perceptions of the books as well which allows me to take different messages and incorporate it into my own recovery.” ~Jennifer Pody Gaskell



”Being a part of the WMBC has been like a life raft for me. I live in area of the country with almost no PPMD resources and no in person support group. This book group has enabled me to feel part of a community of amazingly strong and courageous women (authors and fellow readers). Reading these works has also assisted me in gaining more knowledge about PPMD, which has helped me tremendously in making sense of my experience and continuing my journey to wellness and health for me and my family.” ~Becky Ruess

I hope that reading can be a cathartic experience for you, as well, regardless of whether you join a book club, read a book with a friend, or on your own.  Reading is one of the few self-care activities that I prioritize and tends to be a great source of enjoyment and escape for me.  I personally have found that reading a combination of fiction, non-fiction (self-care/help), and faith-oriented books allows me to balance and blend my reading hobby in a healthy manner.

Thanks, Lauren, for inviting me to write about the Book Club!

Take good care,
Amber Koter-Puline
Beyond Postpartum

Mom and wife.  PPD Survivor/Advocate. Yoga lover. Oh…& coffee, bacon & prayer. Amber also blogs at atlantamom.net- a site devoted to information, inspiration, and networking opportunities for all moms in the Atlanta area.