I’ve been thinking a lot about the activities I find enjoyable as well as those that leave me feeling happy but aren’t necessarily enjoyable in the moment. Playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook falls into the first category; working out at the gym falls into the second. The one I’ve found that falls into both categories is reading.
Oh, how I love reading! I love immersing myself in a world created by another person and traveling alongside the denizens of the author’s world for a few hours. I used to dislike nonfiction, but I seem to have found a class of nonfiction that I can enjoy as a sort of palate-cleanser between novels. Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma was one of these, as was Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. I like memoirs with reservation, although I love the personal essays of David Sedaris. And, of course, Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, which inspired this blog.
I’ve decided to start my Happiness Project August 1st, which should give me enough time to nail down my resolutions. I’m still a little stuck on the reading part, though. Reading is one of the only activities that I enjoy unreservedly, and for this reason I think I ought to include something about reading in my project. I already read every night. Most nights, reading is the reason I stay up much later than I ought to in order to get adequate sleep. I’m not sure it’s practical to add more reading time unless I cut out something else. So that leaves making more of the time I already spend reading. I have been using Goodreads to track my to-read lists and to post reviews and ratings of the books I’ve read. Tracking my reading this way does seem to increase my pleasure in the entire process. Is there anything else I can do to make it even more fun?
I could join a Book Club. I’m hesitant about this because a) I hear that many of them don’t actually discuss the books they say they’re reading, and b) I like to choose my own books to read. And c) I’m not all that keen about social interaction. With two young children, my evenings are precious, and I want to be sure I’m spending my time in the best way I can.
I read The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, which recommends applying the Trivium while reading each book, reading it three times, the first to get the general idea, the second to analyze it from a logical standpoint, the third to develop an opinion about the book and share it with others. Bauer recommends keeping a reading journal during this process. I did this when I read Don Quixote, and while I think I retained much more from the reading than I would have otherwise, I wouldn’t really consider the process “fun.” But then, does something need to be “fun” to leave a person feeling happy?
I don’t know. Maybe some things should remain pure recreation and not need to be part of any kind of “project.”
I still wonder, though, if there’s a way I could wring even more happiness out of reading.