I don’t have time to read these days, especially fiction.

My weary brain struggles to process this bunion of information, dropped casually into conversation. As a fiction writer, such statements are bricks hurled at my head, dental drills applied to not-numb gums. Honesty flays me open, rearranges hurts, shreds my very soul.

Why don’t people have time to read?

Here are a few things people tell me:

  • I’m too busy, say some.
  • By the time I fall into bed, I’m too tired. Thinking hurts my brain. I just want to get my mind still enough to sleep.
  • My to-do list is staggering.
  • The kids need stuff.
  • I’m harried and heartbroken, stressed and consumed by life. With everything pulling at me, reading is a luxurious waste of time in a world lacking finery.
  • A brazen few actually puff out their chests and bark, I don’t read, like it’s a badge of pride.

Fiction is even harder.

  • I can’t escape into a story. Too much is happening on my phone.
  • Really, I can’t do anything immersive.
  • Why read novels when real-life is one screwed-up show, and I don’t have to work nearly as hard?

Last month, I spent time in LA with my dear friend Debra Fetterly. One of her granddaughters straggled into the living room while we were sipping tea.

“What’s up?” Debra wondered.

“I’ve been reading for about an hour, and I’m so relaxed,” her granddaughter chirped. “Can I read a while longer?”

After she left, Debra turned to me. “You know, we’ve forgotten what reading is supposed to be.”

“What do you mean?” I wondered.

“Reading is a form of meditation. We’re SUPPOSED to read when we’re stressed, when we have too much to do, when we can’t focus. It’s a delicious form of escape.”

Reading is a form of meditation.

I’ve thought about Debra’s observation many times since I came home. I wonder how the world’s stress levels would change if, for just one week, everyone set aside an hour to lose themselves in a story. It could be about anything, transport them anywhere. Instead of wondering what new outrageous-but-the-same thing is happening in real life, wouldn’t it be glorious to go someplace different? Even if it’s only in our imaginations?

For thousands of years, reading was the seminal way for humans to escape the drudgery and stress of living. I fear we’re returning to the Middle Ages, only then people didn’t read because they couldn’t. An institution hoarded knowledge and shielded it from the masses.

These days, with so much knowledge at our fingertips, why do we choose to scroll, distracted skimmers of everything and lost in nothing?

PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. READ A BOOK. DON’T PICK YOUR PHONE UP UNTIL YOU’RE FINISHED WITH SAID BOOK. I DARE YOU TO TELL ME YOUR BRAIN DIDN’T BREATHE.

thankful

Having spent much of the past eighteen months wondering whether I’d go blind or lose my mind, I’m thankful for what eyesight I have. Others may argue I lost my mind long ago.

Whatever.

Being thankful is the cornerstone of a happy life.

Here’s my short gratitude list for 2017:

  • MTM didn’t divorce me over my illness. He’s still steadfast. He loves me. I don’t know what I’d do without him.
  • When I was at my lowest, unexpected souls stepped in the chasm. I’m thankful for friends in unexpected places.
  • I’m finding my writing voice. The worse-than-chemotherapy-like drugs I took for almost half-a-year made me a mush-brain. These days, I’m hearing characters again.
  • I’ve only lost 25% of my vision in one eye. I’m thankful for what remains.
  • I found a publicist!
  • My assistant didn’t quit, no matter how trying I’ve been.

And if that’s not thankful enough:

  • We’re fielding some really interesting appearance opportunities for 2018. If you aren’t one of my elite readers, you don’t know what they are. Email assistant(at)andrawatkins(dot)com to be added to that super-special group.
  • I’M THANKFUL FOR EVERYONE IN MY ELITE GROUP. SERIOUSLY, I’D SLOPPY KISS EVERY SINGLE DANG ONE OF YOU.
  • Despite all sorts of online changes that have decimated my income and reach, my stories still find readers. People make memories EVERY DAY because of my work. I’m grateful for every person who gives my stories a chance.
  • I’m glad Dad still finds joy in going out, bothering strangers, telling stories, and selling the crap out of THE DAD BOOK. Having my parents in my life, still healthy, is a blessing.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? WHAT DESERVES YOUR GRATITUDE THIS THANKSGIVING WEEK? PLEASE SHARE YOUR STORIES IN A COMMENT.

Haven’t read my books? Curl up with the best reading material you can find this holiday. MINE.

CLICK HERE TO BUY MY BOOKS.

books

The world is awash with SO. MANY. BOOKS.

Every time I turn around, someone else is launching another book. By and large, the only books anyone hears about are those with large marketing budgets, huge followings, and big endorsements. The rest of us struggle to replenish our dwindling savings accounts after failed marketing investments. I know I’m not the only author who feels like I kills myself to give money to everyone but me.

One of the best ways to find worthy books is to recommend them. Strongly. With gusto.

And I’m here today to do just that. Here are three books I’ve read recently THAT YOU SHOULD READ, TOO. RIGHT NOW. YESTERDAY. Put them at the top of your reading list. You won’t be sorry.

All About You by Liz Butler Duren

books

I’ve followed Liz’s journey to find her birth mother for close to a quarter-century. From the time she was tiny, she suspected she was adopted, but for fifteen years, her parents lied to her. The truth sent her on an epic quest to discover who she really was.

GET YOUR COPY OF ALL ABOUT YOU HERE.

THE SOLICITOR By Sean Keefer

books

It took Sean seven years to write the follow up to his debut novel The Trust, and I WAS CHOMPING AT THE BIT THE WHOLE DANG TIME! Well, dear readers, the wait was worth it. When a celebrated attorney finds himself jailed for murder, he must summon every trick he knows to clear his name. You’ll devour this book in one sitting. I promise.

GET YOUR COPY OF THE SOLICITOR HERE.

REDEMPTION by Meghan O’Flynn

books

One of the perks of being an author is getting to read and blurb books. And every time Meghan adds an installment to her Ash Park Series, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Whether you’ve read the first four books or not, you’ll tear through this well-crafted thriller. Show Meghan some love. She’s a hard-working, talented author who deserves it.

GET YOUR COPY OF REDEMPTION HERE.