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.

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.

Three years ago, I walked the Natchez Trace Parkway…all 444 miles of it…over one million steps……..

But sometimes it’s fun to retrace our steps.

You can read more in this blog post about that time of my walk or you can read the whole story in Not Without My Father. Available NOW. Amazon/Nook/iTunes/Kobo/Audible.

steps

A driven daughter. A gassy, nightmare father. Can they finish an epic walk of an ancient highway before they kill each other? If you like Bill Bryson, Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert, then you’ll love Andra Watkins’ New York Times bestselling memoir. 

Connect with me on social media so you can see the rest of the videos in this series! All the links are on the top right of this page.