“Brianna, why don’t you read anymore?”
My husband Daniel asks me, innocently, one night after the kids have gone to bed.
I feel my back stiffen and hurl back a defensive reply, something about being too busy, too exhausted, and constantly having to do everything for everyone.
While lying in bed that night, after apologizing to my husband, I wonder why I responded with such venom.
I realize that my defensiveness came from a place of shame and embarrassment. Simply put, I am a writer that doesn’t read much.
That hasn’t always been the case. I have had a long history as a reader, but my relationship with books didn’t start out that well.
The first book I remember as a young child was Pat the Bunny. I remember running my hands along the fuzzy bunny’s belly, turning the weathered pages and reading the book to myself because I had memorized every single word.
As I grew I flipped through more and more books. I learned the alphabet and how to write my name: Brianna Miles, in large block letters.
But still, I did not know how to read.
Kindergarten passed, and then first grade. Still, I could not read.
It wasn’t until the third grade, far beyond most children, that I could actually read and engage in a book. It wasn’t until I began to connect the dots, and discovered the winding stories and complex characters hiding beneath the cover of each book, that I truly fell in love with reading.
It started with my love for Junie B Jones. I would beg my Mom to buy me the latest Barbara Park release. These books were very popular in the 1990’s, and were hard to find at the library. I started my very own collection. The only problem: I read them in an afternoon and was eager for more.
I always loved reading books that came in a series, that way I could fall in love with a character and we didn’t have to depart after just one book.
I read The Baby-Sitters Club and wished I had friends like Mallory, Stacey, Mary-Anne, Claudia and Dawn. Of course, in my mind, I was Kristy, leading them all.
I went on to read the Boxcar Children Series, and spent my days wishing that I could live in my very own Boxcar with my orphaned siblings.
I read every single Beverly Cleary book I could get my hands on, ditto for Judy Blume. I loved the quirkiness of Roald Dahl. I felt like Paula Danziger's Amber Brown was my real-life friend.
As I grew, I took on more mature books.
Everything changed when I read the first Harry Potter book in the series. I quickly devoured every single book that had been released in the series, and eagerly anticipated the next release. Some nights I couldn’t sleep and would slip my book off my side table and read by the dim light peaking through my lamp shade.
In high school I continued to read. Go Ask Alice sat with me for weeks, and is likely the reason I never tried drugs. It turns out the story was likely fabricated, and not actually the diary of a teen who died by an drug overdose. Still, the story haunts me and made me think twice when friends would ask me if I wanted to smoke pot or even try a cigarette.
No way, I was not going to turn out like Alice, I remember thinking.
At 15, I discovered my favourite book of all-time. Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun, written as an anti-war novel in 1938 by a known communist. I read the book in the middle of the night while camping with my family. I finished the book while a thunderstorm passed through, shaking my tent and setting the mood for one of the most important novels of my youth.
As I got older I continued reading. On my honeymoon I read The Help, another one of my favourites. As a young wife I discovered The Hunger Games series, and as juvenile as it was I quickly read the books and discussed them with my other reader friends.
I’ve read almost all the books by some of my favourite authors, like Lisa Genova, Kate Morton and Diane Chamberlain.
But still, in this last year I have struggled to get my mind to focus. To truly absorb myself in winding tales and the beauty of storytelling. Usually I have kids climbing on me, a baby attached to my breast, or a massive to-do list to tackle.
I don’t have the same empty spaces in my day. I don’t have a bus commute to work, or a long weekend spent lounging in my pajamas, a pile of books beside me. My time is full and my space is nosiness and chaotic.
How do young mothers take the time to enjoy simple pleasures like a quiet hour of reading? When can we take a moment to put up our feet, leave the dirty dishes in the sink, and find ourselves escaping to a place and time far away from ourselves.
I hope to figure it out. I hope to discover more books in the future. For now, I will resolve to simply read more. I don’t have the time to read many books, or spend an allotted amount of time daily reading, but I can simply try to read more than I am right now.
I think I’ll start right now.
Do you have any book recommendations for me? Share in the comments below!