Brene´ Brown is Standing on my Desk
And She Won’t Leave
Brene´ Brown is standing on my desk right now telling me to get going. Or as she calls it in the breakthrough book on which she now dines free in any city of her choosing, “Daring Greatly.” Nearby, Glennon Doyle Melton tells me to “Carry on, Warrior” and Browne and King promise to teach me the art of “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.”
I love you all for being here. I really do. It makes me feel better to know you’re around because Brene´ and Glennon, I know you’re both incredible women. I can just feel it oozing from the covers of your books; a mix of strength and vulnerability and stick-to-it-ness. You ooze it. Seriously. Not that I’d know, because, well, I haven’t actually read your books. Yet.
There’s always next week.
Does anyone else have this habit of buying stacks of books that you’re afraid to open? I know one other person who does. Yes, Mom, I’m calling you out. After all, I didn’t buy “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” after seeing it sit unopened on someone else’s shelf. I saw it unopened on yours. So then of course I had to have it. And it looks great. It’s just a quarter-inch smaller than the blue book it’s sitting on top of called “The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austin and Laura Ingalls Wilder.” I’m sure that book is great, too, because I’ve read both Jane Austin and Laura Ingalls Wilder and they’re both great. So, you know, extrapolation and all.
Gretchen Rubin and her books, though, “The Happiness Project” and “Better than Before” — I can’t even buy them. It’s just too much. And you know why? The thing all these books have in common is that I’m going to have to do something after I read them. Okay, let’s just simplify that: They’re homework.
Who wants homework?
When I sit my butt down on the couch to read (which if you know me at all you know I do often) it’s for purposes of escape. John Irving makes me laugh like the fictional grandma he gave us who pees her pants in the park, and yet, did you know that he has never once encouraged me to take notes on my exercise routines? Never. Honest. Not once. He may be a world-class athlete, but I wouldn’t know. I don’t care, frankly. I was, however, tempted to name my oldest son, Owen.
But, ugh, groan, piss and moan, if crack open the pages of “The Leadership Challenge,” I may actually have to do something other than sip wine and contemplate the merits of smoked almonds over unsalted cashews.
Now before you chalk this up to non-fiction versus fiction, let me stop you. Non-fiction can be a great escape, as well, and probably accounts for the reason that I was first a history major in college (before I was a psychology major before I was an english major before I was a speech/theater major). What modern-reading woman hasn’t wanted herself a little David McCullough between the sheets at night, am I right? As, too, am I a fan of essayists Bill Bryson and Nora Ephron and Ann Lamott and The Davids — Rakoff and Sedaris.
Genre is not the issue. Though Truth vs. Fiction … we may be onto something.
See, I don’t necessarily want to look at my capital T Truths. They’re exhausting. They’re going to tell me that maybe I ought to spend a little more time unpacking the reasons I excel at procrastination and less time hating myself for it. Then they’re going to tell me that I really don’t procrastinate, I just tell myself that I do. And they’ll go on to tell me, perhaps in the same breath, that my kids are at risk and are going to be fine and it’s most likely because of everything I did and didn’t do as a mother.
Or maybe they’re not. How would I know? I just buy the books. I don’t read them.
Gretchen Anthony is a Minnesota-based writer and essayist. Want to be the first to know when she publishes new content? You could text her, but her boys have a tendency to borrow her phone. Sign up for email alerts, instead.