The Sunday Salon: Permission to Read, Please

Woman Reading - Henri MatisseOn this hot summer Sunday, I’ve been seriously contemplating climbing the stairs to my bedroom, stretching out on the king sized bed underneath a gently whirling fan, and reading napping. It’s a revolutionary concept for me – the napping part, not the reading part. I never nap. But I haven’t been sleeping very well, and last night was another in what has become something of an ugly habit – wake up at 1:30, stay awake  until 3 or 3:30, and then drift off into restless sleep until the alarm sounds

Summer afternoons seem made for reading, and I’d love to allow myself the luxury of lolling around with The Burgess Boys, which I picked up at the library yesterday. But most of my reading is done at the extremes of the day. I’m used to reading first thing in the morning, often before anyone else is awake, and last thing at night, just before falling asleep. And these recent middle-of-the-night periods of wakefulness have proven a boon to my reading life, if not my physical one.

I wonder why it seems such a decadent pleasure to read in the middle of the day, one almost akin to eating dessert before (or instead of) the meal. In my youth and early adulthood, I often spent time in the afternoon reading, and recall many summer afternoons spent on the back porch of our house or under the shade tree, book in hand, while baby napped inside. It was so rejuvenating, that hour or so spent with a book, that it seems churlish not to engage in it more often.

It is without a doubt my Puritan work ethic that nudges me off the couch and on to more “productive” tasks. I tell myself that reading is sustenance for a writer, that it’s is necessary for the betterment of my craft. I remind myself that many of the books piled on my TBR shelf are review books and require my dedicated attention. But even as I settle comfortably on the sofa, I can feel nagging tugs at my shirtsleeve…how about that laundry? did you remember to get the chicken out of the freezer? have those bills been paid yet?

What I really crave is permission to let that other stuff go and read in the middle of the day just for the pure love of it. Isn’t that silly?

So without further ado, I will attempt to spend at least part of this summer Sunday engaged in the practice of reading.

How about you? When does most of your reading get done? Is reading during the day a guilty pleasure for you?