Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Slump

Last summer was a great summer of reading. I read so many new favorites and felt so refreshed by my reading. This summer I feel like I am in a reading rut. I’ve read enough and am still on track for my yearly “book a week” goal, but I still feel a little blah about it.

I think I know why: I am uneasy. I am still on the lay-off list for my district. Now, I think it’s highly unlikely that the district won’t have a place for me doing something interesting this fall. This problem has an end-date. (And if it doesn’t, then I’ll have the mental anguish of trying to stay calm and work through the sad fact that I wasted time worrying about the wrong thing all summer, which would probably bother me more than worrying about the true situation at hand.)

I have a low-level of unease that floats about me and it is disturbing my reading life. Frankly, it makes me kind of mad. But it’s also been a huge lesson: being a reader and choosing to be engaged with your reading life is a conscious choice and it might, at times, require some special arrangements due to mitigating circumstances. I guess I needed a reminder about this.

So many students can have instability and unease as a backdrop in their lives: they need a little help navigating their way back to a reading life. Personally experiencing this (again) has given me a lot to think about as a teacher. For me, I know my unease is temporary and much more shallow than what others are managing. Still, I need to look for a way back to engagement and remember that there are some tricks. The last three books I read, while interesting, did not fill me up in any way; they were factual, kind of depressing, and dryly written. Not the right thing for right now.

The most powerful way out a reading rut is to find the right thing to read right now. That could be something light, something shorter, something longer but with short chapters, some short stories, a different genre, something familiar, something new, something sad, something happy, something easy... If it’s not the right thing, find something else. I need to figure out how to lead myself back to my regular habits. 

I think it’s a good back-to-school reminder to remember that living a reading life is a choice and that sometimes there will be obstacles. I know that living a reading life is living a richer life and that I’ll find my way back. And this year and in years to come, I hope I continue to help my students stay on –or return- to the path of a reader.

I think this just may get me out of my reading rut...