I’ve written many times about my struggle to read certain books. They are typically nonfiction, and they are sometimes books I want to have read but don’t necessarily look forward to reading, the way I look forward to curling up with the latest Louise Penny mystery novel.
Now, when it comes to fiction, I do not read books that I don’t want to read. A long, long time ago, I used to make myself finish books no matter what. These days, I will abandon a book if I lose interest, even if I am several hundred pages in or just a few chapters from the end. Life is too short to waste time on books that I’m not enjoying.
But these other books – these nonfiction books on adoption, transracial adoption, race, parenting, and writing – are different. I want to read these books because I want to be a better parent, a better writer, and a better human being.
The biggest challenge I have related to this task – reading nonfiction books to educate myself – is this: reading is my inhale – my stress relief – my recreation – my joy. I love reading, and I mostly love reading fiction. I have limited time to read – kids, job, house get in the way – and so when I get the time, I want to dive into an escapist novel, NOT an educational resource.
I have found a few strategies that have helped me to read these books:
- Listen to the audiobook. This helps – listening to the book as I empty the dishwasher. It doesn’t take away from my fiction reading time, and while I prefer a paperback to an audiobook, it’s less important to me when it’s a nonfiction book.
- Get a recommendation. If someone can vouch for the book, it helps me. I had White Fragility on my to-read list for months. Then a friend mentioned it to me, and I asked him to tell me a little bit about it. (I don’t have the same detest for spoilers when it comes to nonfiction books!) With a little more info and a recommendation from a friend, it was easier for me to dive in and keep going with it. I ended up loving the book and would recommend it to anyone.
- Read a page a day. Just keep on creeping through the book slowly. Some of the books I want to read are written in a very academic tone, and I am finding that
- Get freaking motivated.
For # 4 – allow me to explain.
I started this post a few months ago. As I type today, it’s June 3, 2020, and there are uprisings across our country related to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. I have never been more motivated to better myself as a human being and as a parent. The connection between the books I want to read and the reasons why I want to read them has never been clearer.
Currently my social media feed is jam-packed with information about books, videos, articles, podcasts, TV, and movies that are recommended to White people so that they can learn what they need to learn to be actively antiracist. My copy of Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi arrives today, and I’ll be reading that book together with a friend. I’m participating in a book club discussing White Fragility so I’ll be gradually re-reading that book at all. The next two books on my list after Stamped are How To Be An Antiracist, also by Ibram X. Kendi, and In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption by Rhonda M. Roorda.
I honestly don’t think I can plan past those books at this moment. Are there other books I want to read related to writing, parenting, race, transracial adoption, and adoption? Yes. But right now, I am taking every single thing in life one day at a time, including this. When I finish these books, I’ll evaluate the other books that I need to read. I’m grateful to writers who are helping me to learn and to grow so that I can be the parent I need to be for my kids and the human being I need to be for the world.