On my Goodreads page, I have a category called “Set Aside For Now.” I sometimes start a book only to discover that it is not the right book for me or not the right time for me to be reading that book. I give it a good try and then move it into that category, without guilt. Later, I’ve given numerous set-asides another try and really enjoyed them. Some languish in that category for years before I give them another try or pronounce them a DNF.
This week I moved a book into that category. I love the books of D.E. Stevenson, in particular her “Miss Bunkle” books. I started the first book in her “Drumberley” series, Vittoria Cottage, and was enjoying it until some wording hit me hard. She started using the “N” word in conversations, and it stopped me.
I have read many books in which that word comes up, but this time it hit me harder. In the last few years, and on a daily basis, we have been inundated with blatant racism, misogyny, cruelty, bullying, unfairness, and manipulation in our daily lives through both news and personal encounters. I do not accept these encounters silently now, for there is too much at stake.
So I set that book aside for now…until I can put that part of the story into the historical/cultural context of the time, understand better the life of the author, and/or until I decide that the book is worthy of my time and emotional energy.
I am not trying to “escape” in my reading these days. I take on some pretty serious subjects, but I am very aware of my emotional vulnerabilities and the overwhelming amount of daily exposure to the negatives in life. I am trying to be more mindful in my choices…to choose things to read that honor the goodness, the strength, the resilience of the human spirit. To choose things to read that are beautifully written, especially if the subject is a difficult one. And to choose my “entertainments,” as Graham Greene called his own books, with care.