Recently I blogged about my reading resolutions for 2016. One of them was to spend some time in my library. As I mentioned, we have been back in the house of over a year and I hadn’t spent much time in the library at all. I not entirely sure why that was, but since I made the resolution I have taken steps to rectify the situation. I’m happy to say a few simple steps have unblocked whatever mental blocks I may have had that were getting in the way of enjoying this great room.
Joan, who blogs at Planet Joan, commented on my New Year’s post that she sometimes finds herself distracted by all the books in her library, as if they were whispering to her and breaking her concentration. In my current mood I have found that my books appear to be whispering encouragement, almost egging me on to read. Sometimes when I am at a bookstore I get so excited about books that I feel the need to run home and read something. That’s kind of what’s happening right now with my library. I’m finding them inspirational rather than distracting.
The first thing I had to do was a bit of organizing. In general my books were pretty well organized but I had kind of stuffed John’s books every which way. That muddle, along with the stacks of books I bought this summer were keeping me from feeling relaxed enough to read in the room. Thankfully it wasn’t a wholesale organizing effort that was necessary (like the one in the picture. That would have kept me from reading for a week. But I did weed out about three bags of books, get my recent acquisitions on the shelves and sort out John’s books.
The second thing was to get some music in the room. I don’t need music to read, but I definitely needed something that would allow me to listen to my neglected classical CD collection. That option has warmed up the room and made it much more of a destination for me.
The third thing I did was reassess the comfort of the one chair in the room. It really does work pretty well for reading but less so for napping. Turns out not being able to nap in the chair is actually conducive to reading, but somewhere I got it in my head that the chair wasn’t comfy for reading.
With these simple changes in place I have actually been reading in my library. It helped that John was out of town one night this week so instead of being cozy with him on the couch in the family room I was cozy in the library instead.
One morning I had 20 minutes before I needed to leave for work so I thought I would go in the library and read. I found myself distracted by a book on the shelf, but in a really good way. I saw a volume that I had zero, and I mean zero, recollection of buying. I was intrigued enough to take it off the shelf and sit and read it for 20 minutes. That’s my definition of a good distraction. The book was…
Although I couldn’t remember buying this book, I wasn’t surprised that I did. I’m always on the look out for novels that depict classical music in an interesting and intelligent way and this book certainly looked like it might fit the bill. With lots of wonderful detail about cello pedagogy, the world of classical music making, and descriptions of various pieces of music the novel tells a fascinating family and marriage tale that encompasses the U.S. immigrant experience, the Chicago business world of the 20s-50s, the U.S. Communist Party, race relations, and New York in the 1970s. It was almost as if my favorite sociology, history, and music professors had gotten together and wrote an interesting novel. Incidentally, Sennett wrote about three novels in the 1980s but has spent the rest of his career teaching and writing (since at least 1969) in the field of sociology. And his sociology texts look as interesting as his novels.