I have two basic states of being – creating and consuming – and I’ve found that they tend to be mutually exclusive. The interpretation of either state is relatively broad, but the main constant is that they remain separate. When I was younger, the transition was seamless. I would write feverishly for fifteen minutes, then pick up a book and read for an hour before going back to writing. It was a reflex, a natural jump from pen to paperback.
Now, I need to make a much more conscious effort to get myself from consuming to creating. It’s tempting to just place blame on the passage of time, to say that nothing is as simple as it was twenty years ago. Which, to be fair, is true. But I don’t think age is the issue so much as the time constraints of adulthood. Working full time means that I have limited free time and there’s only so much I can pack in.
As evidenced by the gap in posts, I’ve spent the past month voraciously consuming. Sometimes several books in a day (though the multi-book days were decidedly YA fiction) and quite a bit of film and television on top of that. There have been many times when I told myself I should sit down and write, but I’ve found it’s best not to force it if the will isn’t there. So, to jumpstart myself back into the swing of things, here are a few recommendations based on my recent consumption.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable quick read, look no further than The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. While American Gods remains my favorite of his novels, Ocean is creative, charming, and just the right amount of dark. In his distinct style he blurs the line between childhood imagination and reality, weaving an interesting tale in the process. I also quite literally loved the book – the pages (shown above) were rough cut, making it feel like a journal in my hands. Even if you’re not a fast reader, you could probably get through the book in a day (I read it in one afternoon).
Another jaunt into magical realism (with a heavy dose of both magic and reality) is Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. The way she builds the story is absolutely masterful, as is her ability to be both bitingly funny and heartbreakingly serious. This is a much longer read, and is best enjoyed as slowly as possible. There is a lot of subtlety and a lot of footnotes (though the footnotes are a creative device, not a burden) so my advice is to take your time to absorb and appreciate the details.
Other books to add to your reading list:
- Horns (Joe Hill)
- The Leftovers (Tom Perrotta)
- Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Karen Russell)
Other forays into consumption have naturally involved testing out new recipes. As an addition to my breakfast rotation I’ve started experimenting with overnight oats made in the fridge. It’s a relatively simple formula – at its most basic just equal parts oats and liquid – and very easy to adapt. The batch above was equal parts oats and coconut milk, plus some freeze-dried strawberries and a touch of honey. The only catch is that you have to remember to mix it up the night before. It’s a total bummer to open the fridge in the morning and realize that your breakfast has not already made itself.
My favorite combos:
- 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup freeze-dried blueberries, 2 Tb unsweetened shredded coconut, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon, dash of nutmeg and ginger
While I won’t be NaNoWriMo-ing, I will make a commitment to write at least two blog posts a week for the month of November. While I’m working my way out of the hibernation of the mind, I suspect it will soon be followed by the hibernation of the body, so expect a lot of recipes in your future.