So today I was at the cafe writing (surprise, surprise) about, of all topics, biographies I have read over past few years. I have read some great biographies, as well as auto-biographies and memoirs. These include: the Aerosmith biography (really, it’s an auto-biography, written with extensive input from members of the band) “Walk this Way;” the auto-biographical “The Glass Castle;” the Hamilton biography (which inspired the musical); the biography of Bronson Alcott and daughter Louisa May (of “Little Women Fame”), “Eden’s Outcasts;” Elizabeth Gilbert’s heavily autobiographical “Big Magic;” and the “biography” of McDonald’s “Beyond the Arches.” Of course, the auto-biography of sorts that is “Walden” also heads the list.
Each of these books, and others as well–such as Donna Tart’s The Secret History–impressed and moved me. They were intelligently written, and gave me a fresh glimpse on life. Whether I was reading about the crazy, fantastic upbringing of a girl in “The Glass Castle,” getting a glimpse into 19th Century New England life for Thoreau in “Walden,” experiencing Aerosmith’s collective recovery from drugs in “Walk this Way,” or seeing American life from the Founding Fathers’ point of view in “Hamilton,” each of these books expanded my vision of the world, and brought me a new understanding of facets of the human experience.
In short, they satisfied and pleased me 🙂
It’s a simple concept, I’ll grant that. Yet truthfully, I had until recently struggled around truly satisfying myself when it came to reading books. That is, I had struggled when it came to reading books I didn’t like.
How did I struggle? Well, by trying to make myself read them.
A few months ago I wrote about a break I was taking from reading. I realize now that this was directly due to my own resistance to drop books that I didn’t want to read. There were a few books last year that I made myself read. This got a bit tiresome, and so when I started some others that I wasn’t enjoying (four, to be exact), I was stubborn about it. I didn’t want to just put the books down, you know, call the game. “No! I need to finish these,” I said to myself.
Instead though, I just protested the whole experience. I didn’t put the books down fully, I just stopped reading entirely.
My reading mojo started back up again when I gave away one of the offending titles that I didn’t want. This seemed to complete that episode, and I read several more books, quite happily.
I’m happy to say that I’m back in the swing of reading. Last week I started a book that I just wasn’t getting into…so I let it go. Today I started a brand new (to me) biography… so far I am loving it.
From now on I’m not going to care so much about finishing books as finding books that are worth finishing.
After all, one thing that makes my life satisfying is having something good to read 🙂