The Next Chapter
My August challenge has accomplished what I’d hoped it would; I’m back to reading as my default, and fitting in everything else around books. I’m back to floating in a world of words, actually in a whole variety of worlds, and expecting to be both comforted and challenged by the words. I’m back to turning to books when I’m happy or sad or confused or just tired of pain. In other words, I’m back to my usual bookish self. I ended up reading forty-three books, so although I didn’t quite make all of my categories, I’m counting it as a success.
I’m slightly mystified by how easily this was accomplished; perhaps the break of a few months (in which I was still reading, but in a rather desultory manner) helped me immediately see what I’d been missing? Surely, giving myself a little checklist and concrete goal couldn’t be that effective? Could it?
I suspect the Protestant work ethic so widespread in US culture is at the root of all of this. Knitting is concrete; I plan a project, begin it, work on it for a long or short amount of time, and then at the end have a finished object to show, made with my own two hands, that occupies real space. There’s something addictive to that, and over time the physicality of knitting somehow made it seem more productive, more worthy of my time, than reading. Of course, I didn’t spell this out consciously before. If I had I would have seen the falseness of the reasoning, and returned to my usual balance. But for someone whose health prevents her from managing any of the typical accomplishments of her peer group, there was something deeply seductive about tangible results.
Ultimately, there isn’t a real dichotomy here, fortunately enough. I can fill my life with books and handcrafts, if not quite in equal measure.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my decline in reading also mirrored my decline in blogging. While posts are not as physical as mittens, they are still an end product. So I’d like to get back into the habit of writing them.
I must admit, I spent much of the month contemplating creating a new space, like Jane (another reader who knits) recently did, one that’s modelled on the type of things I was doing in my field notes post, weaving in bookish content with my other interests. A space without the almost nine years of history and expectations that have accumulated here.
The more I imagined a fresh start, the more my heart thrummed in recognition. The contemplation quite quickly turned into a resolution. And so, I invite all of you to visit my new space: The Charm of It (named for a favourite poem by Anne Sexton).
I’ll be leaving A Striped Armchair up for reference. I can’t imagine deleting so many years and words, nor do I want to. I imagine there will be some cross pollination going on as well, as I might recycle some posts from here in The Charm of It. I’m still waiting to see precisely what the latter wants to become. It will certainly contain much bookishness, as well as my more maker pursuits, like knitting and photography, and general life musings. As I write on my new about page:
I find, as I stand on the cusp of my thirties, that I’m drawn towards personal essays as a form of expression, towards writing deeply instead of widely. I desire a space to record my intellectual curiosities and moral struggles and creative explorations, and I want it to be a calm, pretty kind of place at that. I want it to be a public space, so that I can connect with others who share such interests, so that we can talk and argue and grow together. I’m almost afraid to speak such desires out loud, though, because they seem to set an impossibly high standard. I’m not viewing these as goals though but as dreams, and if in the end they come to naught, well, that certainly would have happened anyway if I’d never tried at all.
Essentially, I’m hoping to recreate the atmosphere of a small, liberal arts college, but amongst a more diverse community, and when we’re all a bit older and wiser. ;)
I hope those of you who have enjoyed and supported A Striped Armchair will stop by and continue to share your wisdom and reading recommendations with me. I don’t feel as if I’m leaving the book blogging community, just expanding my focus. And I’ll certainly continue following all of your wonderful blogs!
Thank you so much for nine years of reading, commenting, e-mailing, and encouragement. Book blogging has changed my life, both in existential and very concrete ways. I now go by Eva in the offline world, although it’s my middle name and I used to go by my first. I wouldn’t be living where I am without blogging either. And I’m not sure I’d have been able to keep a sense of self in the face of my health and life struggles without blogging either. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I hope that The Charm of It does for my thirties what A Striped Armchair did for my twenties. It’s still a little baby of a blog, so I’m sure you’ll understand any tumbles as it tries to get its feet under it! I’d love feedback too of course.
With love and gratitude, and hopes that you will all come visit my new place,