A New Kind of Reading Challenge: Slice of Life #sol20

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I feel like reading shouldn’t be that hard right now. I have time. I have books. I need distraction. I want to learn.

But somehow, despite my best intentions every day, I have been struggling to read. I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve read all the explanations–stress, trauma, grief. I understand that, despite the suggestion that we could all be like Shakespeare and write King Lear while quarantined, productivity is challenging during a pandemic–and possibly not the best path to self-care.

But I can barely even read for escape.

To be fair, I am reading more than ever. Seemingly millions of words every day as I scroll the news and read articles that come across my feed. But I haven’t been able to read books.

The past week has been better, however. All thanks to a new constraint applied in desperation.

Reading by color.

A few weeks ago, I reorganized one of my bookshelves by color. There are stacks of orange books, green books, blue books. It’s visually pleasant, though I tend to forget which books are there.

The other day, flailing around desperately for a way to find motivation to read, I spied the shelf and thought to myself, I might as well just read orange books.

Which sounded like a really dumb reason to choose a book, except… it also sounded kind of fun.

I grabbed the first orange book on the stack: Jason Reynolds’s Patina, the second volume in his Tracks middle-grade series. I loved Ghost, the first book in the series, but never continued for no very good reason.

And reading orange worked! I finished Patina in two days, the first book I’ve finished in a month.

Next up: more orange! I’ve got Genesis Begins Again from the library. Maybe Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me. I even have one orange professional development book I have’t read yet, Kelly Gallagher’s In the Best Interest of Students.

How are you finding the focus, attention, and quiet mind to read right now?






16 responses to “A New Kind of Reading Challenge: Slice of Life #sol20”

  1. arjeha Avatar

    There are all different ways to choose books, title…author…genre. Choosing a book by color is just another way of picking something to read. Whatever works. Since I am an earlier riser and Kathy is a late riser I take the quiet time before she gets up to get lost in a book. She does the reverse since I go to bed before she does.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Whatever works indeed! I’m also an early riser and love that morning time all by myself–and I think my husband feels the same way about his quiet time at night after everyone else has fallen asleep!

  2. Shari Daniels Avatar

    These words seriously made me laugh out Loud:
    “The other day, flailing around desperately for a way to find motivation to read, I spied the shelf and thought to myself, I might as well just read orange books.”
    I need to do this to get out of my own reading funk. Once again, you inspire me. 😊

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The reading funk is so tedious! I’m thankful that an orange book helped last week. This week, a graphic novel helped–plus I’m reading a really absorbing sci-fi novel that I’m thoroughly enjoying. I might need to read more sci-fi fantasy right now! Hope you find something to get you out of your funk too.

  3. Terje Avatar

    An interesting way to pick books. My current book “The History of Bees” by Maja Lunde would fit your list. It has a beautiful close up of an orange flower as a cover (Estonian edition). I struggled with reading when the school was in session. My eyes were tired of screen. Now that I have a spring break I have been able to enjoy reading again.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying reading again. and The History of Bees sounds interesting. I hadn’t even though about how my eyes may be tired from all the screentime!

  4. margaretsmn Avatar

    I was watching someone broadcasting from their home and I noticed that their book shelves were ordered by color. I’ve never though of doing this. I love that orange is speaking to you right now. I loved Harbor Me. I vote for that one next!

  5. sallydonnelly11 Avatar

    Your post nicely explains the why and how you keep at it to find a solution to read despite the why. Then a silly idea is found and it works!! Such a hopeful post. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Clare Landrigan Avatar

    I have had the same problem. I am hosting a neighborhood read aloud every morning for about 15 kids in my neighborhood to give parents a break. This got me reading some of the new books in my stack. I am also doing more audio these days – while cooking, folding launder, going for a walk or doing the puzzle. Both of these have helped me — color is interesting. Penny Kittle organizes her books that way!

  7. djvichos Avatar

    Everything seems kind of random anyway so why not choose by color? I immediately thought of an orange book on my shelf which is Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love — I’d love to read it again. Maybe I will and all the other orange ones too! I’m glad the colors got you reading again and organizing 🙂

  8. Susan Kennedy Avatar

    I’m having a hard time reading as well. Like you I’ve read so much, but not as many books. I’m very behind on my personal challenge. Maybe it’s tired eyes. Perhaps it’s the need to. I’ve when I’m “not in school”, but I want to walk or cook when I have time.

  9. […] (This is the cover of my copy of Orlando, which I’ve been itching to reread since reading the diary entries about its creation. And it’s orange, so it fits in well with my current reading plan!) […]

  10. mschiubookawrites Avatar

    I love how you spice it up with reading by color! Harbor Me and Genesis Begins Again are fantastic. I agree with you that although I am reading a lot (news articles, etc), it’s not an escape. I just might have to make myself a stack of purple books.

  11. Akilah Avatar

    Reading some middle grade, getting into some whimsy. Here for it.

  12. jarhartz Avatar

    This is a time we have to trick ourselves out of what our emotions and spirits are reacting to. Why not a little color? Publishers have beautiful cover art for a reason. Enjoy Harbor Me.

  13. […] Month. It’s been a week of forms: nonet, prose poem, elevenie, Pleiades. I also wrote about my new method of choosing books to read based on the color of their cover. Hey, whatever […]

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