I graduated from college nearly 20 years ago with a degree in English Literature. I had my first child the day I turned 28 and haven't read a full-sized novel since.
About 5 years ago, I took my two kids to the ocean, our first trip on my own with them. I sat by the pool and read an entire parenting book - every word, cover to cover. That's the only book I brought with me besides a programming certification book that I fully intended to read with my toes in the sand. When I finished the parenting book (Scream Free Parenting, which I highly recommend), I realized that was the first book I finished since my daughter was born. I had gone 10 years without doing the thing that I was most passionate about, the thing that defined me, besides being a parent.
Since then, I have started and not finished several books. I am proud to say, I have finished several short ones (some which may well be classified as short stories). I have read Ethan Frome, The Great Gatsby, Beowulf, Of Mice and Men, and Call of the Wild, truly a strange combination of genres and historical periods.
While I have read many short stories over the last few years, the list of books that I have half-read since that trip to the beach is both sad and telling:
- The Hobbit (I read half of it twice)
- Sense and Sensibility (I watched the movie twice)
- Paradise Lost
- Canterbury Tales (I started this yesterday)
- Alice in Wonderland (I started this today)
- Great Expectations
- White Fang
- Morte D'Arthur
- The House of Seven Gables
- The Odyssey
- The Oedipus plays
- Madame Bovary
- Last of the Mohicans
- Lake Woebegon Days
The problem I have is that I have a shelf full of wonderful books, plays, and poems that I want to read as well as an e-Reader stuffed full of pdf's.
My family has taken karate at a couple different facilities over the last four years. The current instructor focuses on self-discipline for the kids as "doing the right thing without being told or being told once." That's not really true for adults. For me, I definitely have self-discipline regarding things that are needed for my family, but not the things that I need that no one else would ever tell me to do. That is the challenge that I am really struggling with.
I am compelled to read more books and add to the list of the Half-Read. Instead, I think my first step toward having a more fulfilling life is to finish my half-read books, one at a time, and then pick up another.