So, I have a friend. She’s really fun and super cute and so smart. She can bring up all the greatest points about any topic that comes up between us. We talk about our kids, our husbands, our feelings as stay-at-home moms, what shows we’ve been binge-watching, and the latest books we’ve read. The funny thing is we NEVER talk about these things face-to-face. Or on the phone. It is all by text or IM or DM. She lives thirteen hundred miles away, so there’s that obstacle. But maybe it’s easier to be real with each other when it can be at any time of the day or night and with the ability to say whatever whenever. As introverts (we’re both INFJ’s), we are perfectly ok with our digital-age friendship. Last night though, she said (texted) something that hit me with a wave of sadness:
“I haven’t read a book in forever…I can’t break my internet habit. Takes up all my free time…”
I totally understood. As my fourteen year old son would say, “same.” Having just come back from a two week road trip where we had very little wi-fi which forced our phones into a self-imposed “Safety Mode” when we hit our data limit, meant we no longer had high-speed data use until our next billing date. So I couldn’t just open Facebook or Instagram or open an article because it took too long to load. Instead, over the course of the trip, I read 3 1/2 novels (the 1/2 because I accidentally left one in a hotel) and spent time interacting with my family.
Though none of the books I read was life-altering, I felt a sense of accomplishment and honestly, a better connection to the world around me. My reading times were set-aside blocks of time. I read at night before I fell asleep instead of staring at my phone screen (which I don’t like to do at home anyway). I read in the car because there were a lot of long highways. We also listened to an audio book as a family (Wonder which I highly recommend as a great family discussion book, and it comes out as a movie in November). With my phone/computer/tv, I can waste hours and afterwards not even feel like it was at all worth my time. My eyes were reopened to the fact that I spend much less time reading than I want.
It’s not just the English teacher in me trying to get people to start reading more. I honestly think reading helps repair our brains. We are becoming so fragmented in our ability to go deep anymore as we race from place to place and click from link to link. Books can challenge us to allow our minds to explore, heal, and maybe just plain enjoy life. We can find ourselves relating to authors or characters and maybe find peace or support for what something really hard we’re going through in this phase of life.
The truth is we are all knee-deep in this technology-laden culture. My plea for us Mommies-in-the-trenches is this: join a book club. It’s a reason to read and then talk about it! It’s motivation to actually read (and hopefully finish) a book a month. I joined my first book club about ten years ago when my kids were toddlers and preschool aged. I joined an established group of women of various ages who all loved reading good literature. They’d been a group for years before and they are still meeting today (I moved away but still get their emails so I can see what’s being read). It was so good to have a Mommy night out that didn’t cost me anything and stimulated my brain with good conversation.
Since then, I’ve been a part of a few book clubs. Some were merely excuses for moms to get out of the house and have a glass of wine and catch up on gossip. Others have been an extension of a Bible study group who wanted to read and discuss books that gave them encouragement and left us all with a sense that we were more than “just moms” of our tiny ants.
HOW TO START A BOOKCLUB?
Your book club can be just you and a friend (or husband), or it can be a large group that picks a day or night of the week to meet at someone’s home, a coffeeshop or bookstore, or as an excuse to try out a new restaurant. You could even chat about it while using the elliptical at the gym. There are a thousand book club lists out there online. There are even apps for voting for a book or a day and time to meet. Pick how often you want to meet, decide how you will choose your books (rotate who chooses or group vote each time), and discuss what types of reading everyone is ok with (fiction or non-fiction, redemptive or fluffy), and find sources that will give you questions to use during your club time.
Now, go read like your life depends on it. Then tell someone else about it. #talkmoretechless