By V. Jolene Miller
Reading on the Run
Binge reading on the run because everything else can wait.
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST:
I live in remote Alaska where I work 40+ hours a week at my day job, write novels, and own a pop-up book shop. In my spare time, I chase after grandbabies and go running with my giant puppy, Omar. Always, I carry a book in my purse. I never know when I’ll get a few minutes to indulge in a good read. Fifteen minutes before dawn, at lunch, bundled up in my car by the river, or right before falling into bed. Reading is my resting place.
If only we could see into the future, right? Or, perhaps, if you’re a bit of a cynic or a bit anxious (or both!), you’d prefer to not have the ability to gaze into the bottom of your tea cup and see what lies ahead. It’s interesting that every book contains a bit of futurism. Not necessarily, on a broad scale, but the characters scramble to make a future for themselves. Isn’t that the beauty of a book?
I’m currently reading a non-fiction selection called Developing the Curriculum; Improved Outcomes Through Systems Approaches. I know, it doesn’t have quite the flare of the fiction pieces I’ve been reading. And, the cover art is nice, but it’s not breathtaking like some. So, why am I reading this book? I’ve gone back to school. I know… what was I thinking, right?
But, that’s the thing about books and futurism. You never know which book will catch your eye or spark your interest. We can’t see into the future to know what’s going to happen next. And, we never really know just how connected books and our futures are. Has that happened to you? Maybe, you’ve picked up a book about horses and realized that you love this incredible animal. Or, you read a book that has mouth-watering descriptions of food. Suddenly, you’re exploring new recipes or looking into culinary arts school!
Of course, I’m over here searching for a single spare minute to sit down and read anything that’s not a textbook! Why aren’t there more hours in a day? While I’ve only been able to read two fiction books in the last month, they were both incredible. I was drawn into the characters’ stories as they eked out a living for themselves and their families. Both main characters were in survival mode and desperate to move past that into futures more fulfilling and less emotionally painful.
In The Center of Everything by Jamie Harrison, Polly is searching for answers. The author takes readers backward in order to understand the events of the present. Meanwhile, in Abundance by Jakob Guanzon, Henry can’t find a future to save his life. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but because he can’t catch a break. The futures of Polly, Henry, and the people who rely on them hang in the balance. Every step must be accounted for. Every decision leads to a “what-if” scenario. What if I had tried harder? What if I had said something different? What if I could do it all over again?
Hint: If you want to find out what happened to Henry and Polly, check out the book review section of this edition of Shelf Unbound!
This new school venture I’m on means a new subgenre of books (non-fiction with a focus on education) and a new style of writing for me. With a couple more years to go before I graduate, the future is fuzzy and my steps into it are tentative with a tingle of underlying excitement. Like Henry in Abundance, I’m hopeful and look forward to what this new focus means for me and my family. Like Polly in The Center of Everything, I’m hesitant and uncertain, constantly wondering if I’ve missed something along the way in my search for solid footing on this path.
Also, like Henry and Polly, I occasionally look backward. I reminisce and fondly remember a different time when my past was an earlier future. There are days that I miss — simple days that didn’t include feverishly writing another paper or reading just one more chapter of a textbook. When I land upon a memory that helped propel me forward into this current time, I am reminded of the importance of futuristic thinking.
What about you? Do books help shape your future? When you crack open a fresh book and gently bend back the spine… As you caress the pages, glimpsing fervently at the title page and table of contents, do you expect the future the main character is searching for? Do you ponder your own in the process?
I challenge you to carve out some time. Five minutes here; ten minutes between shifts; a half hour while your little one naps. When you snag those precious intervals, dig into a new book. Whether you travel into the future or back in time with an interesting character, it’s worth it.
Article originally Published in the June / July 2021 Issue: Futuristic