One of the things I have been doing to hoist myself out of this blah-rut that I’ve been slip-sliding around in is this: during the kids’ rest time I drag my laptop from its usual station on the dusty desk in the kitchen and carry it, life cord dangling, into the living room. I set it up on top of the little footstool, plug it in (the battery is dead and costs ninety dollars to replace but I opted to instead spend that money on a pair of luscious slippers from LL Bean and dressy black boots), and plunk myself down on the carpet in front of the blazing fire, my travel mug of coffee sitting levelly beside me on one of the children’s laid-flat library books.
I feel pretty good right now: coffee, toasty fire, chocolate brown slippers, quiet house, and a keyboard. True, there is no internet connection in front of the fire, but that’s okay. This way I have nothing to distract me but my thoughts. This is my writing time.
But back to the title of this post: SSR. No, it does not stand for feminism (which, by the way, I will write more about when I have finished chewing-slash-stewing). It means Sustained Silent Reading.
I am in the process of reading several books, one of which is The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I bought this book a couple years ago because I wanted access to the extensive list of recommended age-appropriate reads that made up the second part of the book, but I never read the first half of the book until now.
I am finding the book inspiring and motivating on many fronts, but especially in the area of SSR. Trelease is a strong advocate for sustained silent reading, meaning 20-30 minutes of quiet reading each day (this happens quite naturally for homeschooled kids, but not so frequently for school kids during the school day), but it occurred to me that I don’t have sustained silent reading. Oh, I spend lots of time reading, but most of it is skim-reading. I read a short chapter of In Defense of Food, I skim the newspaper, rarely reading an article from beginning to end, I blitz through a bunch of different blogs, I read cookbooks and emails and magazine articles and stories to my children. It’s all reduced to sound bites—a little of this and a bit of that, ideas that are reduced to their bare bones, not delved into and thoroughly explored from all angles. And, sadly enough, most of it isn’t great literature.
So last week when the kids had their rest time, I sat myself down in our new recliner (thanks, Mom and Dad) by the fireplace with a couple books. I told myself I had to read for fifteen minutes before I could go do my writing, but I ended up reading from the Handbook for twenty minutes and then I shifted to In Defense of Food for another fifteen minutes. (Yes, I chuckled at myself for not sticking with one book for the duration, but well…) When I got done reading I felt good. I had absorbed a bunch of solid ideas, delving into topics that were filled with scientific facts and well-though out theories. I comprehended what I read, and I came away smarter, more centered, and fulfilled. I had accomplished something. I had done myself a good deed.
Since then, I have been trying to read more to myself, for extended periods of time, not just little snatches here and there. I also realized that I don’t often read novels, so I picked up several when I was at the library on Saturday. Yesterday I started Jodi Picoult’s The Tenth Circle. I’m loving learning about Dante and hell and all that jazz (really edifying, that hell stuff).
All this to say, do you get your daily dose of SSR? What are you reading now? What would you like to be reading?