The Winds of Change Smell Like Books

The wind is howling this morning.

Twitter is all atwitter about it, my #5amwritersclub buddies hoping for some inspiration to blow their way.

I am reminded, as I listen to the gusting outside my window rattling my poor patio chairs around, of a fabulous phrase my friend Lisa coined:  “The winds of change smell like books.”  I love her writing voice, especially her gift for blending metaphors without the dreaded “mixed metaphor” making an appearance.


The wind reminded me how much my reading life has changed since I became a mom.  While some might think the books I’ve read would have decreased in quantity and quality, the opposite is actually true.  When I had Ruthie, I became a mostly stay-at-home mom, teaching just two mornings per week (and grading during every other waking moment).  While reading is certainly a guilty pleasure, I make sure now that I make that pleasure the most enjoyable it can be.

I have carved out a routine–the new normal so many of my mom friends have described.  While I wouldn’t describe my normal as necessarily “normal,” it works for me.

I get up at 4:45, make coffee, and write–either in my notebook, or for a blog, or just on a random Google doc that may never see the light of day.  When Ruthie wakes up, we play and she eats.  During her morning nap, I try to do something productive:  laundry, or cleaning, or working out.  Then it’s time for more playing and feeding, and then the glorious nirvana of the long afternoon nap.

That two to three hours is so indulgent.  Sometimes I’ll grade papers, sometimes I’ll binge-watch Netflix, and sometimes I’ll return to whatever book I just cannot stop thinking about that I’m currently reading.  Yesterday’s naptime was consumed by Ava Dellaira’s Love Letters to the Dead.  This weekend I inhaled Me Before You (finally) by Jojo Moyes (and it did not disappoint).

Other times, when the weather’s nice, I’ll bring the baby monitor outside and listen to an audiobook while I eat my lunch and paint my nails.  Last week I listened to The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah on double speed since I was so desperate to finish it, barely paying attention to the ravioli I was eating or the hot pink I was applying to my toenails.

When Ruthie wakes up, she is happy and hungry and ready to play for several hours until bedtime, when I let out a sigh of relief and survival–I made it through another day, and everyone is still alive!

I climb into bed and celebrate with a book, always, and a glass of wine, often.  I pick up whatever paperback is on my nightstand and read with the help of my trusty reading lamp if my husband is still awake, or I read on my Nook or phone if he’s asleep.  I have had to develop strategies for getting to read, unfortunately.

I usually read several books at a time, something I never used to be able to tolerate.  I was a compulsive list-maker, loving to cross things off and finish them neatly.  So I read one book until I was done.  The end.

Nowadays, I read whatever my mood calls for.  If I want something light I’ll pick up some YA.  For something heavier I’ll grab an award-winner or a recommendation from a friend.  When I feel like learning something new I’ll search for a good nonfiction read.

The new me is so selective about what to read, and when to read it, that I’ve all but eliminated the “filler” books I used to spend my time with.  I rarely dislike books enough to abandon them, and with so little time to waste in my life as a mom I’m much more choosy.  So I’ve loved everything I’ve read lately, and my reading life is enriching me so much more than it always has.

That’s one perk to the many new things motherhood brings–that the winds of change smell like books.

14 thoughts on “The Winds of Change Smell Like Books

  1. jodimahoney says:

    Wow. I just loved this piece from the beginning to the end. The title certainly grabbed me and you didn’t disappoint. Good for you for carving out time for yourself and finding time to read and enjoy. This is beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shana Karnes says:

      Thanks so much, Jodi!! 🙂 I borrowed the title from my friend Lisa, so thank her for the grab!! I hope you have lots of time carved out for yourself in your life, too. Cheers!


  2. Amy Warntz says:

    Well, the wind is over the top right here and right now in my world. I’m finding it to be a big distraction, but your beautifully written slice distracted me. Thank you! You certainly have a routine that’s working for you. I just finished reading The Miracle Morning and have been doing my best to make the most of my time in the early morning too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Terje says:

    Wow. You show how you can find the time for things you truly value. You show who you are as a reader. in addition to enjoying your voice in this slice I am blown away how early you wake up. This kind of discipline is admirable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leigh Anne says:

    Reading your routine brings me back to my stay-at-home mom days which I would not trade for anything! Your description of a “glorious nirvana”nap time is perfect! My “baby” at 24 years old still takes glorious naps! So glad you writing this month!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Classroom Liner Notes says:

    Shana, your reading life is so similar to mine! I get up early, too, somewhere between 3:30-4:30 am, largely because I always have and also because I know that is MY time. I read, I write, I get myself together. I’ve found that what works for me usually is fiction that I can pick up and not have to do lots of rereading about where I left off. But it’s what you do, in the making time, that is powerful. And I love the name Ruthie. It’s beautiful!


  6. MAK says:

    Clearly you are holding to fast to what you love the most – reading, writing and Ruthie. And as she grows up, she will see you model how to give yourself what you most need to thrive. You are taking care of both of you so well!


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