Why I Am Not Reading Right Now

fc8a3eb0-400c-44d9-9378-d95b7a2e94acSo this is my first post since the election last week. I haven’t done much reading in that time, other than our November mother-daughter book club book, which I will review later this week.

It’s hard to concentrate on books right now. I find myself constantly cycling through the news and social media (which are increasingly becoming the same thing for me) looking for some sort of reassurance or relief, and finding none. The news seems to get worse and more hopeless every day, and the pillars I usually look to in times of uncertainty are slowly falling away – or expressing their own fears and concerns.

What is this country going to look like in 6 months? A year? Four? How worried should we be about our personal safety, not to mention the safety of our immigrants, the sick, the earth?

Living in DC, it’s hard to escape from the stress of this looming administration change, and frankly, I don’t think I *should* escape from it. I feel that it’s important to be vigilant right now, to watch what is happening like a hawk so that I am keenly aware of the dangers I see around us. Putting my head in the sand – or into a book – may provide an uneasy, temporary reprieve, but it won’t help me be an engaged, concerned citizen capable of doing something (but what?) to help stem the tide of disaster we appear to be riding.

I set a goal of reading 52 books this year – a book a week. I had ambitious plans for November and December to help get me to that goal – one that has eluded me for years. It’s looking less likely that I will get there. I will keep trying, but right now, reading isn’t serving its usual role of allowing me to focus and relax amidst a busy, multitasking day. It seems instead like an indulgent and likely ineffective distraction. And frankly, I am just too stressed out to concentrate.

Maybe I just need to give it a few more days?

Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take longer than that.


  • Bruce Kneuer
    November 16, 2016 - 5:27 am | Permalink


    Perhaps a change of reading material instead? Perhaps some selected biographies/historical non-fiction (or portions thereof) of leaders/leadership during times of great change? For inspiration?

  • Robert Alpiner
    November 16, 2016 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Go with sports books, especially about winning teams or athletes (particularly baseball).
    They go faster and you can recall the events of the day in your life when these events occurred.

    Just my opinion.

  • November 18, 2016 - 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Gayle, I don’t know that it will ever go away. Something important in our country has broken and it can’t be fixed. At best, we can work hard to limit the damage and protect those who need it most.

    As for reading, it took me three days last week to read a book that would normally have taken me an afternoon. I feel as if someone has punched me in the soul. I can’t imagine what it must be like in D.C.

    I guess I’d say take the time to process what you’re feeling (DO NOT listen to the people who say ‘move on’, ‘get over it’, or ‘wait and see’) and then create the balance that works for you. For me, I’m still grappling with it all, but know a few things for sure: I’m not giving up, I’m not accepting. I’m finding ways to help as best I can. At the same time, I’m staying away from the news and social media and looking for ways to protect my mental well-being. In my case, that means escapist fiction and TV. I hope you find something that helps you.

    • gayle
      November 26, 2016 - 9:56 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Catherine. It’s not getting any better, is it?

      • November 27, 2016 - 7:47 pm | Permalink

        No. I wish I could say it was, but I haven’t had a deep restful night’s sleep in 2 weeks. When books don’t help, you know it’s bad.

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