I found myself at IKEA this weekend with one of my very best friends in the entire world, Joely. It was a whirlwind trip to Chicago, complete with a trip to Millennium Park and Wrigley Field. One of the things I was after at IKEA was a set of Billy bookcases to flank either side of the picture window in the parsonage. They would fit perfectly in the space and I was so beyond thrilled to get them home and play around with them.
You see, our books have been in storage for years as we moved from one house, to another, to another. Our house in Oklahoma was only 1250 square feet so a lot of our books stayed in storage under our bed. And as we moved we purged and lessened our Library so by the time I unpacked them all this weekend I was surprised at how much shelf space was still left over.
Like a whole extra Billy. (Yes that is a unit of measure. I am currently only at .25 Billys of actual book storage.
Granted MANY of Kel’s seminary and theological-ish books are at his office now, which accounts for SOME of the extra space… but still.
Even more surprising was, and I hate to admit this, the number of books I own that I’ve NEVER read, especially the non-fiction books. I love the idea of reading timely commentaries on faith and culture and life changing self-help books. However (especially after having kids) any time I have a free moment to read, I grab an engaging novel. I think this centers around my need to escape the chaos of my moment and enter in to someone else’s.
But I want to read more non-fiction, so I keep buying them and I’ve been doing this for the past ten years. I usually start them and the never make it to the finish.
I do this with LIbrary books too, check them out, renew them twice, always thinking that I will be better soon, any day now I’ll plow through all of them, equipped with knowledge that will change my life! Then, ever the literary optimist, I allow them to collect fines until I finally go to to Library with my stack and hand over $10.47 feeling like a total failure.
Audio books for NF are great, but I always want to highlight and well… you can’t highlight air when you’re listening …
I dealt with a lot of self-deprecating feelings as I styled these shelves, thinking of the better writers, moms and pastor’s wives out there who are displaying more books than I have that they’ve probably even read.
Maybe I should cut myself off from reading any book I haven’t read yet… that’s a valid idea and one that I am still exploring.
Yet there is a new rhythm that flows through my thought process…. a more grace filled rhythm.. the one that says “Maybe part of this is just who you are… work with it not against it.”
Swimming up stream is exhausting. So here are 3 thoughts for you if you, like me, struggle with literary poser syndrome.
1) Read What You Like- If you aren’t reading much because you don’t want to read the parenting, churchy, self-help books you SHOULD read. Then don’t read them. Get in to a rhythm of reading to begin with and then add in some “workout” reading.
2) Rent/Buy Less- Stop procuring enormous stacks of guilt-inducing books until you are actually reading at that level. The library isn’t far away and Amazon is just looking for a reason to sell you more books. The books will be there, baby steps friend.
3) Set a goal- So you want to read more of the “workout” books, they’re like veggies, and you could use their mental fiber to clear out your life-colon. Maybe set a goal that for every 5 chapters of your favorite novel, you read one chapter in that wholesome non-fiction? Make it your own, only you can change you.
Above all, just pick up a book that feels like you and try. Don’t let the huge stacks and literary habits of your friends make you feel inadequate any longer. Have you ever loved a book? At any time in your life? Then re-read that one and then look for a few like it.
You be you, in every sense of the word, but most especially when it comes to your personal library and night-stand stack.