Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 118: The One on Making Time to Read.

My Latest Snag: The Sleeper Dress.

I’ve not-so-casually mentioned this about 347 times, but I am SO excited about my new Sleeper Brigitte dress! I’d been eyeing one throughout the entirety of my pregnancy but it took until the very end for me to take the plunge. I think it will be the perfect nursing dress — polished, airy, comfortable. I bought mine in this blue “linum” floral print, in the midi length.

You’re Sooooo Popular: A Chic Mirror.

The most popular items on the blog this week:

+This inexpensive, chic woven mirror.

+A classic leather bag in an on-trend bucket shape — on serious sale.

+A sweet floral dress for well under $100 (currently $60!)

+A darling baby gift.

+Low-heeled mules to wear with errythang. (On sale!) These — in a similar shape, but more casual — were also very popular for the second or third week running.

+Flattering everyday shorts for summer.

+My favorite stationery for children.

+I have personalized notepads in virtually every drawer of my home. (#listtherapy). Incidentally, a great end-of-year teacher gift?

+Our favorite solution for stowing out-of-season clothing in Old Louise.

+This striped summer sweater.

#Turbothot: Making Time to Read.

I get a lot of questions about how I make time to read so much. The truth is that my readership ebbs and flows. There was a legitimate two- or three-year period after I completed graduate school where I did not read any books. People assume I’m exaggerating, but you can ask Mr. Magpie — I would not read. Pursuing an advanced degree in literature had seemingly extracted all of the joy out of reading for me. I couldn’t face a text without — well, first, considering it “a text” (rather than an escape, or a mirror, or a site of enjoyment or enrichment or emotional exchange) and, second, finding myself deafened by a chorus of irritating voices reminding me to consider Derrida or “the male gaze” or “otherness” as presented in the work. The heavy machinery of critical theory switched on the minute I cracked a book open, almost like a neighbor buzzing away with his leaf blower for hours on end while you are trying to snooze next door. (Incidentally, there is currently one droning away outside my window, or maybe it’s a street drill — such is my level of extraction from the noise of home gardening — but in any case, it’s irritating.)

With time, though, came a gradual return to books and an unanticipated emotional awakening to their possibilities. As my grasp on the finer points of LaCan and Foucault waned, I found myself learning to read again. (And I’ve since learned how to read again and again, thanks to the smart ladies who read alongside me here on this blog and in our in-person book club gatherings.) But there have been other aids I have used to help me carve out more time to read:

+Buying a Kindle. Well, technically Mr. Magpie bought me this, but it has completely fueled my voraciousness as a reader. I find it much easier — physically and mentally — to read for small stretches of time on the Kindle than I do when I am toting a physical copy around. A physical book seems to require of me (I am sure much of this is mental) a place to sit, a stretch of uninterrupted time, and an ability to focus. Conversely, I find myself reaching for my Kindle when I am standing on the subway platform, or enjoying a blessed couple of minutes of quiet while mini colors, or waking at 3 a.m. unable to fall back asleep. It has changed my readership habits entirely: I will now read in small sips whenever I have little pockets of time.

+Retiring books when they don’t grab my attention. This was a hard habit to break, as I suffer from type A-style “completion desire” — if I’ve begun a book, I feel an awful compulsion to finish it and something akin to guilt if I don’t. But I have learned the hard way that elbowing my way through a book that does not interest me is a surefire way to kill my reading mojo. I’ll sit, quagmired, in a book for months on end. And for what?! Life is short. Drop the book and find something better to read.

+Reading books you love. I tear through books when I let myself read whatever tickles my fancy, with no regard for whether something is “highbrow” or “impressive” or “popular” or not. There was a time when I felt ashamed to read the latest pulp thriller or “chick lit pick” — it felt wrong, borderline unethical (?), given my substantial training in the field of literary criticism. I’ve long since dismissed those concerns as overly vain and entirely irrelevant. I read for many reasons, but chief among them is pleasure. So who cares? Read that juicy rom com of a book. (Incidentally, my favorite beach reads here.)

+Finding friends to read alongside you. Nothing holds me accountable to finishing a book like book club. (Join me!) I also often read books alongside my sister and cousin, who tend to share my literary interests. It’s so fun to unpack what we’ve read together, over pizza and a glass of wine. (My sister and I often disagree on books, though — ha!)

+Breastfeed a baby. HA. But seriously — I don’t think I’ve ever read more than I did while nursing mini. (I anticipate this go around will be very different as I’ll also be supervising a toddler, so…the long days of breastfeeding and reading are probably not going to materialize again.) Reading made the time fly right by and made me feel relaxed and — if I may say so — slightly virtuous: “aha! I am not only feeding my child but nourishing my spirit at the same time.” It was also a welcome break from scrolling through Instagram/Facebook, which had been my go-to nursing activity for the first few weeks. (A Kindle is a must-have for a nursing mom, FYI! You can use it with one hand! You can prop it up or use a stand so you can read hands-free! You can read while the lights are out or very dim in the wee hours of the morning! It is heaven!) More generically, though, even while not breastfeeding, I thought carefully about the times of day I would normally reach for my phone for an idle social media catch-up session and try to supplant that urge with reaching for my Kindle.

+Bring your book everywhere. When I was little, I was occasionally embarrassed by the fact that both of my parents never went anywhere without a book in hand. My mother always had a book propped up against the gear shift of her car in the carpool lane. My father would attend school events with an enormous Churchill tome tucked under his arm. I get it, now, and intend to fully embarrass my own children with the same slightly anti-social habit. There are always little pockets of time to kill. Why not fill the void with a quick five minute reading session?

+Audit your time. Someone once told me that “time is a tool to express your values.” It caught me off-guard and I began to think a bit more critically about how I was spending my spare time. Did it align with who I was? Who I wanted to be? I have always considered myself a curious person, and reading fuels and satiates that intellectual hunger. Acknowledging this helped me make more time and space for reading in my life.

What about you? How do you make time to read?

P.S. Ten books that will change your life and — though this is now a few weeks old — what to read right now. I’ll share another post soon with my top picks for summer vacation reads.

Blast from the Past: Firsts and Lasts.

With my new baby apparently here (it is so crazy to write those words, as I am actually drafting this post nearly ten days in advance of publishing it, and so — gasp!), I have been thinking lots about cherishing those fleeting firsts and lasts of the first year of a child’s life. I capture a lot of the wistfulness here, in this post I wrote about “Firsts and Lasts” with mini, two years (!!) ago:

“It feels like yesterday that I woke every morning to the sight of minimagpie’s empty bassinet, its vacancy engendering the deepest sensation of longing and anticipation.  Mini had not yet entered the world, but there it stood–open-armed, waiting, a visual reminder of what was to come.  (As if I needed the cue–my belly growing by the day, her kicks so forceful they sent electric shocks through me multiple times a day.)

These days, I wake to the sight of her empty bassinet, but feel something entirely different.  Most mornings, my eyes travel over it thoughtlessly, so accustomed am I to seeing it there, her existence and all of her paraphernalia so deeply incorporated into the quotidian activities of my life that I barely give it a second thought.  I’m too distracted by her cry, or too tired to think much of anything.  Other mornings, I wake and look at it and fight the urge to cry.  I thumb through pictures of her in it from just a few months ago, her limbs scrawny and her face red and squished and my recollection of this time continues to soften and float, suspended, in a haze of tenderness.

Did I adequately cherish those moments?  Those mornings and noons and nights with her snoozing in it by my bedside?…”

Post-Scripts:

+These linen coasters are TO DIE. What a chic hostess gift!

+With mini, I used this Puj baby bath, which fits into any sink and was therefore a dream because of my c-section (you don’t need to bend over!). I also liked that it unfolds into a flat shape that can be slid away for storage. The only downside was that we found it dented/scuffed up pretty easily given its foam construction and that it developed mold. We ended up throwing it away when we moved. I then used this Boon tub within our bigger tub when we moved to New York until mini was about a year or maybe 14 months — at which point she transitioned into the full-size bath with this bath mat lining the bottom to prevent slips. With micro, I’ve been sort of waiting on the edge of my seat to see if he’ll be delivered via c-section or not, and if he is, I might try to get by with this inexpensive “sponge,” which a few readers have recommended and which I could place right in the sink for the first few weeks, while I’m recovering from surgery, as it doesn’t seem to make sense to buy a $45 Puj for about a month of use when I already have the Boon downstairs. OH THE LOGISTICS AND MATHEMATICS OF MOTHERHOOD.

+Speaking of baths, swooning over these personalized, block-print towels for little ones.

+Smitten with the swimwear brand Onia — love this blue floral print (on sale)!

+Added one of these personalized laminated dining mats to my cart for mini! How precious?!

+A dead-ringer for Zimmermann (but $75!)

+These $100 slides are so fun!

+Apparently these are a great hack for introducing more vegetables in your toddler’s diet. Mini has been going through a phase where she doesn’t eat most vegetables. She’s great about trying most other things, but veggies are just not her style right now.

+A $55 gingham steal.

+This is such a saucy style for J. Crew! Love!

3 Comments

  1. It’s interesting to think how reading on a Kindle might shift your readership habits! I had a Kindle several years ago (soon after they came onto the market) and never quite caught on. I would love to read more in those idle moments, though — I try to file articles into my Instapaper app to serve the same purpose, but typically have a hard time resisting Instagram’s siren song for at least part of the time I am waiting in line, or what have you. I tend to favor paper books, but maybe it’s time to reconsider le Kindle? We shall see!

    I, too, have fought with “completion desire” (love that term) for much of my life, and have only recently adopted the habit of giving up after a few chapters of a book if I’m really not feeling it. We have a lot of Little Free Libraries in our neighborhood and I’m always more than happy to drop books in them once I finish (and don’t want to keep the book on my own shelves) or if I abandon them.

    A side note: that quote about time & values, WOW! I’ll be thinking about that for the rest of the evening.

    1. Haha — “Instagram’s siren song.” OMG how true. I am currently trying to go easy on myself with the phone use guilt — I haven’t yet quite gotten into a rhythm with reading books and feeding my son / looking after my daughter and so in the scarce moments to myself, I find myself on Insta. Eh well. There are seasons for discipline and seasons for excess in all things…

      Completion desire! I could write a whole post on this. It’s a Type A thing for sure. I find it hard to do anything halfway or even to take a break when something is not yet done — but such is often the reality with children around. Again, time for me to practice more patience with myself…

      xxx

    2. This is such a good reminder — to go easy on oneself. I tend to use my phone more when I’m traveling or alone, which I’ve been doing a lot lately — it’s good to remember that it’s just a phase! Such an important reminder to be nice and patient with ourselves (I frequently need this reminder!) xx

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