Wild Ginger, and why my 2017 book list is changing
You should probably write a post about it.
He's right. Something I set out to do in 2017: read all of the books on my book list, is changing. Some of those books won't be finished this year. And, if they are, it won't be because they are on the list. It'll be because I was pulled to revisit them.
Wild Ginger by Anchee Min pulled me out of a fearful funk. I have unsuccessfully begun six books since the beginning of the year, and one of them I deemed "finished" even though I can't confidently say I read most of the pages.
As an avid reader throughout my life (and getting a lot of my childhood validation from being exceptionally literate), my lack of a draw to reading had me fearing for the worst. What if I didn't love reading anymore? What if I've fallen into the pit of technology addiction and I can no longer enjoy books?
Cue melodrama and tiny violins.
I examined the list of titles. They were almost exclusively "personal development" books. The Japanese Art of Tidying Up, Better Than Before, Big Magic; don't get me wrong, they had good narratives and great authors and the descriptions must have sounded highly relevant to my life six months ago when I initiated this list.
It was strange, how nervous I felt about deviating from this list.
It was as if I were somehow breaking a promise, failing, quitting, by deviating from a book list. Sounds a bit extreme, especially in retrospect.
However, this experience caused me to spare a deeper examination into how critical and often hard on myself that I am. "Another thing you're quitting, Amelia. Can't even read a year's worth of books." "Why'd you waste your time making a list in the first place if you were just going to do whatever you wanted any?"
Was my perfectionism so embedded that it was natural to be even hyper critical of something so small?
In fact, creating the list in the first place helped me in so many ways: helped me prioritize books to keep and those to downsize; comforted me in a time where I felt like I needed fixing with a menu of opportunities to remedy myself; gave me a year's worth of literature to look forward to and kept books at the top of my mind.
This historical/political, female-protagonist, tragic love story was engulfing. I devoured it in a matter of days. Putting it down, still reeling from the final pages and the messages I'm left with by the narrative alone, I'm already looking forward to my next read.