Rediscovering Delight in Books

All I wanted for Christmas this year was to recover the ability to read for pleasure, and I found it in Iceland…

The loss of leisurely reading is, paradoxically, an occupational hazard of professional writing. When books are the tools of one’s trade, it becomes difficult to open them without engaging the ‘work-side’ of the brain. At least it is for me. Even with picture books and whimsical children’s stories, a supreme effort is required to keep the author hat off my head.

Of the forty books I read in 2022, only one, The Maid by Nita Prose, was for pleasure, and I think I managed to enjoy it (i.e., get lost in it) because the performance aspect of the audio book format made it feel like entertainment.

The other 39 titles were either historical sources or writing craft or market research, all work-related. There were some OMG-dazzling books in the mix, but I didn’t feel joy reading them.

Bumpy Book Slump

I will admit to having tumbled into a reading slump this year. I was feeling cross with myself for being a slacker, but really, it’s no wonder, when reading feels more like an academic exercise than fun. While I’m reading, I’m often extracting information, analysing style, scrutinising plot, seeking inspiration, and so forth.

And yes, yes, sigh – yes. I’ve allowed the Insidious Internet to splinter my focus, but that’s a woe for another post…

How I long to rekindle the magic of getting lost in a book.

Making Reading Fun Again!

Jolabokaflod to the rescue!

Jola-what-the-heck? Jolabokaflod is Icelandic for “Christmas Book Flood,” a Christmas Eve tradition of giving and reading books – with chocolate. I think it’s a perfectly wonderful custom, sure to reignite the magic of reading. (Read more about Jolabokaflod here. )

So, to get the Jolabokaflod tradition rolling in my family, I nominated myself as this year’s Book Curator Santa. And I am thrilled to report selecting a special book for each person did wonders for how I feel about reading. I rediscovered the fact that there is the right book for the right moment for EVERYONE. What a delightful puzzle to make the perfect match!

You might want to write this down:

A sure-fire remedy for a dreaded reading slump is to matchmake loved ones to beloved or felicitous books.

Ali Stegert, Recovering Book Slumpist

For reading accompaniments, I served chocolate “bookies” (crinkle cookies) and a nip of Frangelico. Adding these little treats further enhanced my enjoyment in this wholesome tradition.

Typically, in the hubbub of wrapping and baking, I forgot to procure myself a book, but it didn’t matter because my bedside table is of course straining beneath its towering load of TBRs.

My husband was keen for an entrée to Pratchett’s books, so I picked Wyrd Sisters for him – a wild and wacky ride that will surely whet his appetite for more.

After being awed by Chris Riddell’s sketches, I decided to read Natalie Haynes’s Stone Blind.

Now to dip into my pleasure reading while I can! I have a fun book project in the pipeline…

Here’s to You!

Here’s to you and your reading adventures! May you enjoy a year of bookish magic. Do you celebrate Jolabokaflod? If so, please share your traditions in the comments. And feel free to send me an email if you’d like my recipe for gluten-free chocolate crinkle “bookies!”

Image Credits

6 responses to “Rediscovering Delight in Books”

  1. Your post reminds me of my book present giving this year. I rummaged through my husband’s special books and gave them away to family members telling each person why I had chosen this book for them: It proved to be a happy event with the receiver’s knowing each one was getting a treasure from a man they had loved and respected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this, Jocelyn. What treasures those books must be! And what a lovely gesture on your part.
      You reminded me of a book gift, too. Way back in 1979, my grandfather passed away. He was a polyglot and was proud of my fumbling attempts to learn French, one language he’d never conquered despite proficiency in Italian, Spanish, and Latin, and fluency in German and English. A month after he died, a package arrived for me, a French dictionary he’d ordered for me before he got sick. Like your husband’s special books, this book was a treasure—a welcome bit of encouragement “from the other side.”

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  2. One book I gave was a journal of blank pages worn an ornate cover. I gave it to my grandson who is very technically advanced in the world of computers. His grandfather had never used the book. I told him it was a challenge for him to fill the pages with his own words or drawings to be creative. To doodle. Time will tell if he takes up the challenge. All writers know that actually creating words on paper is a skill we are all losing.
    My question Ali is did you ever learn French? What a wise grandfather you had. Love Jocelyn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the blank book for doodling. It’s a lovely challenge for your clever grandson!
      As for French, I studied it for five years, 1.5 years with enthusiastic and inspirational teachers and 3.5 with a dud. No, I did not learn French. But I did master Italian and I became proficient at Mandarin Chinese, so I know Poppy would have been very proud. 🤓

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  3. We also celebrated jolabokaflod for the first time! Like you, I find it hard to read a book without analysing or editing. So it was a joy to reintroduce myself to the idea of reading just for fun and relaxation.
    Ugg boots were left under the tree, and each set of boots received a book and a favourite chocolate. This was a nod to Iceland’s 13 yule lads, whom we discovered are quite vile.
    The idea was to have a relaxing evening of reading and chocolate eating, but of course we had left the present wrapping to the last minute. So once the kids were in bed, we had to put the books down and turn the tv on to enjoy our usual Christmas Eve tradition of watching Love Actually while we wrapped a pile of presents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is fabulous! The Ugg boots are a fascinating touch. I’ll have to look up these Yule Lads. A friend told me Iceland has a Christmas Cat who eats the pitiable folks who don’t receive clothing as a gift! Ugg boots could be a lifesaver! Thanks for sharing your tradition, Sarah.

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