Monday, August 24, 2015


"WOMAN READING" by Ivan Kraniskoy
It's been a long one, but I think the drought is finally over. I don't mean lack of rain here in North Dakota (however the downpour we had Saturday evening was the first time that we'd had a real soaker since the middle of July).
No, I mean my reading drought. I basically quit reading about the time that Dan was the sickest - the winter of 2013. I remember trying one dreary evening to get into a book after I had gotten him settled for the night, maybe a week before he died. I poured myself a drink and sat down in the living room. using his hospital table as my side table.
"You look tired," Dan said to me, the last sentence he ever uttered that was personally directed at me. I never did finish that book, and to this day I can't even stand to look at its cover without feeling sick.

From that moment on I quit reading, cold turkey. I think I equated reading with his illness and death.

Until this summer, I had picked up a book here or there but never gotten into any. I had not purchased a single book of fiction, except "American Boy" by Bismarck native, Larry Watson, and this only because my friend had encouraged me to attend a reading by him at Bismarck State College. I felt guilty about not supporting him when copies were being sold after the reading, so I bought one. That book also went unread.
All this, from a person who has devoured books since the time she learned to read. A person who at one time belonged to about eight book clubs at one time.
I majored in English literature in college, for Heaven's sake. And afterward, through the years I kept track of the bestsellers and the best-reviewed books. Although I didn't always follow recommendations, I read a lot of books from those groups.
I belonged to a book club for 17 and a half years. And in 2010, a year in which I was mostly unemployed, I read over 200 books.
And then came the drought. I never looked at a bestseller list once. I didn't know the names of any of the "good" books, the ones  lauded by critics.
My sister-in-law, herself a prolific reader, knew about the drought and would ask me from time to time if I was reading again. She told me she had gone through similar sad times and had also stopped reading for a while. I thought I would begin to read again in a matter of weeks or months. I could not have imagined or fathomed the depth of this disconnect from the world of books.

But as I said, I think the drought is over now. I have read about six books this summer, sitting out on the deck during the long, light-filled evenings. One of the books I finally got around to reading was "American Boy",  which I highly recommend.

Otherwise, I just scrounged around the house for unread books. And Sunday, I went to Barnes and Noble and actually purchase a book! I also spotted another one, but considering it too spendy,  I went home and ordered a gently-used copy from

Now let the reading begin! 


Maggid said...

It's challenging to find best words to say.
Thank you for sharing a recommend, thanks for reminding us all there is hope, light . .

and, welcome home . .
love & love
from a blogger friend

Kath said...

I was happy to see you writing Julie, I have often thought of you.
I was interested to read how you came back to reading. My Mum wasn't a reader until after my Dads death, initially she watched a lot of TV, until she turned a corner in her greiving and was able to sit and still her thoughts enough to concentrate on a book. Now she reads voraciously, it is company for her and given her a lot of pleasure. She is a "busy" kind of lady and reading makes her think her resting time is not "wasted".

Barbara Anne said...

I, too, was a life-long reader until my mother's Alzheimers and years as a caregiver for my in-laws. I just couldn't focus on any plot, no matter how well written. At some point about 18 months ago, books called to me again, but for a long time I read gentle mysteries and other easy fiction. It was a start and I enjoy reading once again.

Welcome back to the unlimited worlds of books!

WOL said...

Welcome back to reading. I've been doing a lot of rereading lately. After the last move/downsizing, I have a hard and fast rule that I don't keep a book unless I liked it well enough to consider rereading it. My budget has been very tight of late, so I've been revisiting old loves. . .

I think it is part of the grieving process that things one formerly enjoyed, no longer appeal, plus there was all that time spent in the here and now of being a caregiver, it's hard to let go, relax that caregiver vigilance, and immerse yourself in a book again.

Leanne said...

welcome back to both your blog and to books Julie. You had to give yourself time to grieve, and the rejection of reading was part of that. The fact that you now want to read again is so good!

Leanne x

Claire Caterer said...

Congratulations, Julie. It's an important step in the process to begin returning to those things that make us who we are, when you can become more than the Grief. Blessings to you in your new reading endeavors.

reclaimed wood dining table said...

Hope is always there. Thanks for reminding us.
I'm enlightened. Thanks for sharing this!

reclaimed wood dining table said...

Welcome back! Happy for your return. I love your post. I enjoyed reading it. Take care!