Sunday, January 26, 2014

32 Books: Chapter 14: Coming Up for Air

Today I finished Book #12 and sat numbly until I created a self-diagnosis of mental jetlag after visiting sky castles of stories in the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, plus whatever century Hunger Games is set in. 

 I know where I am (Tallahassee) and what I do (drive, laundry, sweep the floor, grade, mascara, dishes, lecture, write, be nice to people) but adding 4 and 5 hours of reading a day on top of all that is making my brains feel a little like mashed potatoes. 

Cold mashed potatoes.  Awesome. 

Book #11 deserved a week of it's own, a honeymoon to sink into my mind and breathe spirit into my thoughts.  After reading that book I sit differently, breathe differently, listen differently.  I am awakened, changed, inspired, awed, and thankful. The story was as subtle as a breeze, as profound as silence, and as graceful, transient and forgiving as a butterfly.

It’s too cold to go for an ACTUAL run outside, but reading all these books day after day after day I feel like a marathon runner passing by and through these sky castles of book shaped stories, not sitting down in any and making myself too comfortable.  

Staying in one sky castle of a story wouldn't be fair.  I know I keep calling this project “32 Books My College Students Assigned Me” but my first-draft count of 32 books didn’t include the books sent as pdfs and iBooks and ebooks and the one that a student had to have his Mom ship from overseas. 
In reality I have closer to 40 books to read and contemplate and write about.

 Meanwhile my current students and former students and colleagues and former history teachers keep suggesting more books for me and I don’t know what to do.

Accept them all and let this project grow to 50 books? 75?

 Or say enough, no more?!

 What do you do when the universe tries to shower you with blessings?

 Ask it to stop until you can go shopping for a cute monogrammed backpack to catch them in? Or improvise? 

I think I’d do the latter. It’s more fun.

Writing about this adventure (remember, I told my students I could read ALL these books AND write a book) takes my attention too, but I said I would, so here I am, doing it.

For some reason – maybe from the wisdom in the books I’m reading?? – waves of compassion roll over me.

I wonder how my students feel when they have to work all day, read 50 pages of a textbook that covers a topic they aren’t interested in, do math homework, write an essay, mop the floor, read 20 more pages and take an online quiz while taking their kids to Target, Publix, movies and the mall.
I think my job – my race – this semester is easier; every one of this books is a place worth exploring, hours worth investing.  And I don’t have to do it again next semester if I don’t want to. That alone makes me savor every bit of Book #13.

But before I read another page of the very good, very very very good Book 13, I have more writing to do because I haven’t told you about Book #12 yet, the one I started at 5am which dropped me in the (very haunted, very real) world of 18th century Japan.