Bright side to the pandemic: more time to read books

Twelve months ago, looking back on my year in reading, I wrote that there was no better time to lose yourself in a book than 2020. 2021, sadly, was just as good a time. Or just as bad a time, take your pick.

Following on the heels of the weirdest year of my lifetime was the second weirdest year of my lifetime. I don’t want to prejudge 2022, but it isn’t looking like a great improvement.

This means plenty of downtime in lieu of social events. And reading is my main way of filling it. Somehow I managed to read even more in 2021 than in 2020: 77 books compared to 53.

Two reasons why I read more: Fourteen titles were audiobooks from local libraries played in my car. And, sad to say, in 2021 we had a full 12 months of pandemic life, not 9 1/2.

There’s nothing objectively remarkable about 77 books. You may have read more yourself, or more total pages; many of my books were fairly slim. Still, measured only against myself, 77 was the second-best total of my adult years.

Reading is what I do for fun (and sometimes for work). Not a day went by in 2021 without my reading at least a couple of pages, if not 20 or 50.

I saw friends as conditions allowed. And, with civic life stirring again, I went to a couple of art openings and ventured out to city council meetings for column material. (The Inland Empire may never be the same.)

But where once I might have seen 20 or 30 movies in a year, last year I saw three. Concerts? Zero. Travel out of state? Once. TV? Not my bag. Baking? Banana bread has too many carbs.

Books: all the time, baby.

I’ll take one to lunch, to a coffeehouse, on a Metrolink trip. A couple are on my nightstand. I even tote one to council meetings.

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This was a wise choice at a Moreno Valley meeting that lasted five hours. During much of the proceedings, I half-listened while reading Mark Twain’s “The American Claimant.”

I love Twain and am working my way through his oeuvre. “Claimant,” though, is a real dog and I’d been plodding along. The meeting provided a breakthrough: I plowed through 60 pages. With that momentum, two days later I finished it.

Thanks, MoVal.

An equally long San Bernardino meeting gave me time to race through 40 pages of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ undemanding “Llana of Gathol,” one of his Mars novels.

Like I said, 77 books is good for me. One colleague who reads but favors heavier tomes heard that number and exclaimed: “Dang, dude!” Yet if one elected official read a mere 77 books in a year, her friends and family would wonder what was wrong.

Janice Rutherford, a San Bernardino County supervisor, completed 206 books. Dang, dude.

I asked how she did it.

“I read quickly,” she replied, “so that’s helpful!” I would imagine so. As a slow reader, I envy the fast readers.

Nearly one-fourth of her books were audiobooks borrowed from the library, …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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