In praise of reading – and other leisure activities

book lover

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For some reason, I thought today was World Book Lover’s Day. By the time I realized it had taken place on August 9th, I’d already found this wonderful photo, but since I seem to blog about books more than anything else, I decided to use it anyway.

There’s a strong possibility that I might be a workaholic. The main reason I started this blog was to give me something to do that was similar to my work, but wasn’t actually work. I’d also hoped that blogging about my leisure activities might encourage me to spend more time away from my desk. It worked for a while, but once I decided to revamp my business website, it all fell apart. With that project completed and my fall speaking engagements behind me, I’m ready to get serious about having fun.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I’ve been working all the time! I knitted this sweater for my grand-nephew, one of the most challenging knitting projects I’ve ever completed.


And, of course, I’ve been reading. Lots. I’m right on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge as well as the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.

I was a bit stumped on one of the challenges: a book you should have read in high school. I couldn’t figure out whether it meant a book I was supposed to read, but didn’t, or one that might have changed my life if I’ve read it as a teen. Either way, I couldn’t think of one. University, however, is a different story.

Le rouge et le noirAfter completing an Ordinary B.A. in French (5 French courses over three years), I decided to return for a fourth year and get Specialized Honours. That required taking five more French courses in one academic year, two of which were lit courses: Le roman du XXe siècle and Roman réaliste et naturaliste du XIXe siècle. That meant I had to read an awful lot of novels, but I managed to get through all of them except Le rouge et le noir by Stendhal. Fortunately, none of my assignments or exams made any reference to that book.

I kept my copy for a long time, figuring I would get around to reading it eventually, but I finally let it go a few years ago. Because it’s so old, I was able to download an English translation as a free ebook. I probably could have found it in French, but I know my limits!

Even when I was studying that era in university, I didn’t really get the deal with the Jansenists and the Jesuits, so I had a bit of trouble understanding the political backdrop, but I did enjoy the story itself. I approached it the same way I did Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, when I was fascinated by the arranged marriage process, but glossed over the India-Pakistan political issues. Who says we have to be in learning mode all the time?

2015 Reading Challenge

I’m going to continue reading, of course. With my third grandchild on the way, I’m also going to continue knitting. But right now I’m excited about revitalizing another pastime that I’ve enjoyed off and on throughout my life, photography. I’ll fill you in on that next time.

Photo courtesy of Pezibear

Casual Photo of Janet Barclay

Janet Barclay

I eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, watching movies, drinking tea, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Hazel Thornton on November 7, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Janet, do you listen to audio books while you knit?

    • Janet Barclay on November 8, 2015 at 7:05 am

      No, I usually knit while I’m watching TV.

      I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an audio book, and I’m not sure it fits my lifestyle, as I rarely take long drives by myself. Do you listen to them?

      • Hazel Thornton on November 10, 2015 at 9:29 pm

        I, too, used to associate audio books with solo long distance driving trips. Until, one summer, I listened to Pillars of the Earth while painting the outside trim on my house for hours and days. I was hooked! Ever since, I always have one paper book going, and one audio book. I listen mostly when doing a physical task that requires minimal thought, like housework (tidying, dusting, loading the dishwasher, etc…..I even have noise blocking headphones that enable me to listen while vacuuming) or yardwork — mowing, trimming, etc. I also listen at bedtime, much the same way as many people read in bed. I set the sleep timer to automatically turn off. Sometimes I have to back up a minute or so when I start again the next day to remember where we left off.

        • Janet on November 11, 2015 at 6:45 am

          Interesting! I just may give it a try some time.

  2. Let's shoot some photos! | Janet Barclay on March 22, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    […] As I mentioned the other day, I’m getting back into photography, something I’ve been wanting to do since the beginning of the year. […]

  3. Challenge completed! | Janet Barclay on March 22, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    […] A book you should have read in high school university: The Red and the Black […]

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