Pleasure reading can be a hard thing to come by. Let me be painfully honest: Whether because of lack of time or mental exhaustion or both, I go through phases where I spend my free time listening to murder podcasts and staring at the wall. Yes, that’s just about as healthy as it sounds.
But this spring, I seemed to hit my reading stride, and I did it not by deciding to read more but by deciding to try to sleep better.
I know to sleep well, I need to put my phone down in the evenings. Not only does the light from digital devices do . . . whatever it is that it does to your brain, but, given that I have more than a passing interest in politics, my feeds tend to be filled with information that raises rather than lowers my heart rate. And even though I’m doing better with my resolution not to argue with every moron on the internet, that doesn’t prevent my brain from constantly rehearsing what I would say if I was going to argue with every moron on the internet.
So the phone needs to disappear, and my hands need something to do to keep them from reaching for that incredibly useful but infuriatingly infernal piece of metal and plastic almost before I even realize it.
Lucky for me, I am that most blessed of all blessed creatures: A Crafter.
I wish I could explain the physical sensation of putting the digital world away for the night and switching to watching your hands make something. If you do it, you know. If you haven’t tried it, highly recommend.
I know there are people in the world who are ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that they they don’t have enough talent and cannot possibly craft. And if you’re convinced that your first attempt has to be perfect, then you’ll always be right. You’ll never be able to craft. But if you can relax enough to enjoy the process without worrying about the outcome, then you, too, are already a crafter. You don’t even have to show it to anyone. Just pick a craft, watch some YouTube videos if you need to, and then let your brain and your hands talk to each other without any interference from you.
But wait, wasn’t I going to write about reading? Well I’m not crafting in silence, you know. My vision is trash, so it’s hard to watch TV or a movie and craft at the same time because it’s difficult and uncomfortable to constantly switch between close and far vision.
The solution, as if you didn’t already know where this was going, is audiobooks. During the spring semester, I cross-stitched while listening to The Moonstone by Wilke Collins, knitted my mom a pair of socks for Mother’s Day to Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, taught myself embroidery to Educated by Tara Westover, and doodled (yes, doodling is a totally valid craft) to The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.
In all of 2020, I read eighteen books, mostly print. In the first five months of 2021? My count is twenty-five; only three of those were print.
So not only am I going to easily outstrip last year’s reading record, but I’ve also learned a new skill (embroidery), and I’ve made a useful pair of socks and several cute pieces of decor. Oh, and I’m falling asleep faster and staying asleep a little more easily, too.