When a book takes you down


I’ve always struggled with keeping a journal. When I was younger, I would enthusiastically start a journal, making sure my handwriting was neat, word choice was precise, grammar and mechanics were correct, and that my voice was collected and mature. Undoubtedly, I’d give up journal writing after that very first entry, overwhelmed by the daunting task of masking my vulnerability with perfectionism.

I had a twinge of that same feeling when I logged on here after a few months. In my last post, I had written a list of books I planned to read over the summer. Since I am a math interventionist, I did the math and found that I had only read less than one third of those books. This is despite the fact that I had many of those books in my possession for weeks, just waiting to be read.

The guilt.

But why?

Listen, I read a lot. And heck, I’m a pretty good reader. So, why wasn’t I able to tackle this modest list of books over a period of three months in which society thinks I do absolutely nothing? How did I become a book abandoner??

I’m glad you asked. There are many reasons why.

I found other great books to read.
I had to finish that series.
I just wasn’t feelin’ it.
The cover didn’t do a good enough job of drawing me in.
I wasn’t in the right season of my life for it.
I needed more of a challenge.
I needed a break from the seriousness: a beach read, or a candy book as my sister would call it.
I wanted to read something about people my own age, instead of young adults.
I was tired of reading about privileged white people in New York, etc.

And guess what? That’s ok.

My incredible colleague, Pernille Ripp (how many times have I mentioned her in the three posts I’ve written?), recently wrote a blog post about guiding our fellow book-abandoning students. She asks us, as educators, to share our own abandonments, log it, ask “why?” then ask “now what?”, and practice total honesty. That’s what I’m doing here. Being vulnerable and honest about my own journey and identity as a reader.

Our students ought not to feel guilt and fear upon abandoning a book. Instead, they should feel compelled to ask themselves why? What next?

And it starts with us. Model the way. And don’t forget the grace.


2 thoughts on “When a book takes you down

  1. Penny October 26, 2015 / 3:26 am

    As a child, my mother made me write thank you notes, I had to write a rough draft and then recopy it in my very best writing…I hated writing those notes. As an adult, I do love to get notes, and the ones I send are no longer perfect. They are messy and have mistakes, but they get out. That is the point, It is better that you read a third of the books than none. And those books won’t go away. Enjoy what you have accomplished, not what you did not. Love yourself, it makes a great model.


  2. Temberly Mitchell October 26, 2015 / 1:33 pm

    Love this!! I have been struggling with reading and writing. Thanks for the tips and link to Pernille Ripp’s post.

    Great post!


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