Daily Archives: June 2, 2015

How to Cope as a Reader During Mercury Retrograde

Exploding Book - Getty image

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Yes, my friends. This nonsense again.

I speak, of course, of the special hell on earth that is Mercury Retrograde. If you didn’t get the memo (do people still say that and know what it means? should I say “didn’t get the text” instead?), we are currently doing the Mercury Retrograde backstroke until June 11.

There are some people who ridicule this phenomenon. I may or may not work with a few of them here at the Library. I may be married to one.

There are others who believe fervently that Mercury Retrograde is, indeed, A Thing, and that every computer glitch or random ex-someone who shows up in my Facebook feed is directly connected.

I am quite proudly in the latter camp, so very much a believer that I have the Mercury Retrograde times scheduled on my Outlook calendar, my personal calendar, and the project management whiteboard in my office. My job involves a lot of figurative moving parts; I like to plan ahead for big projects happening during such a cycle and thwart them off if I can. As a public service announcement, Mercury Retrograde will occur again from September 17-October 9 this year.

(You’re welcome.)

One realization I had during this particular Mercury Retrograde was how beneficial this cycle can be for one’s reading life. Really. If we think about the emphasis on going backwards during a retrograde and focus on words with the prefix “re,” there are some strategies we can use to at least make our reading life smoother. Because nobody needs a bumpy ride reading-wise during a retrograde, amiright?

Here are a few ways I’m trying to cope as a reader during these three weeks.

I am one of those power library users who often has the maximum allotment of books, audiobooks, and other materials out at any given time. (That limit would be 50 such items here at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.) During this retrograde, I put myself on a moratorium. No going to meetings and returning with five books. No leaving the library for the day and deciding to take “just a quick peek” at the new arrivals. Easier said than done? Absolutely. Does this work for me every day? No way. But maybe I limit myself to checking out one or two books that particular day instead of—oh, I don’t know—maybe ten.

A Mercury Retrograde would seem to be a nice time to reacquaint oneself with an old favorite, yes? I wouldn’t know about this as I’m not much of a re-reader. (See “Restrain” about how I can’t limit myself to 50 books.) I will say that in my pile I do happen to have an updated version of a book I read a decade ago. So, that definitely counts.

Yeah, one could interpret this to mean that I should actually return some of those library books—and I do. Reluctantly. But during this retrograde, I’m hoping to return to reading some books that I haven’t yet finished.

Like most avid readers, I have a few bulging bookcases at home with titles I know I will never read. Here at the Main Library, we have a bin where we accept used books and the proceeds benefit Library operations. Other Library locations like CLP – Squirrel Hill have ongoing book sales. As hard as it may be, I need to remind myself to periodically reduce my quantity of books and donate them to my employer. (And then remember not to buy them back.)

I like making reading goals. I enjoy participating in several of the many reading challenges out there on the Internet. But sometimes I need to remind myself of what I’ve signed up for or committed to doing. Read 50 classics? I’m all in. Read more historical fiction and world fiction, as was my resolution in reading for 2015? Sure, that sounded great in December … but how are things processing now that we’re almost halfway through the year? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Looking over this list, Mercury Retrograde almost seems manageable. Something I can handle.

Just as long as I have a good book.

~ Melissa F.


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