I love what my Read Harder challenge is doing for me! I set upon this challenge as a way to get back into reading. The last few years I haven’t been able to keep myself as interested in books as I used to be. I definitely wasn’t as voracious as I used to be. I could devour a book as if it were a delicious meal and I nourished me as much as a meal would. I purposefully open all the curtains on a snowy day and curl up in a chair next to the largest window with a cup of hot chocolate and a Willa Cather novel just to be able to enjoy being the perfect cliché for a few hours. I’ve never stopped reading, but I kind of took a back seat to everything else in life.
What I’ve been noticing in the past two weeks or so is that I’m getting closer to the reader I used to be. I persevered through a book I wasn’t thrilled with, to find that the second half was totally worth it. I devoured a book in less than 24 hours. I’m even reading classics again… well, a classic. I reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for one of my challenge tasks (a book published before the author was 25). I do plan to reread Jane Eyre for another (a book published before 1850), which will lead to a book I plan to read for yet another task (Wide Sargasso Sea: an imagined prequel to Jane Eyre focusing on the first Mrs. Rochester, a book that is a new spin on/retelling a classic story). The more I’m reading, the more I’m looking forward to the next book, and the one after that.
I’m also finding that the way that I read is returning more to the way I used to. I’m really interested in interpretation of the text, picking out the various symbols and references to other works of literature. (Mary Shelley seems to have been a big fan of intertextuality.) I’m making notes, I even write in a book because I wanted to underline a passage in the absence of my usual post-its. (If you know me, this is a big deal. I regard most marginalia as sacrilege, but I let it go because it wasn’t an expensive book and I don’t like mass market paperbacks anyway, so it didn’t hurt as much to deface it.)
What I mean to say is that I feel excited again. I didn’t realize that a simple challenge I set for myself last month (Gallon A Day) would lead to me setting new/more goals for myself. This Read Harder challenge came at the right time and I’m so happy about it. I want to write every day. I actually couldn’t wait to type this up because it felt weird not to have something to say.
I think the most important that we always have to remember is that there pieces that are integral to the core of who we are. They may break away a bit, but they’re always still there, even if only by a thread. As long as you know what those pieces are, you always have the opportunity to keep them strong and intact. If it takes a challenge or a kick in the pants to make it happen, so be it. You can’t let go of the things you love, especially when those things come together to make you who you are.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have 15 chapters to go on this one.