Published on Living the Second Act (January 2020)
In the early months of 2017, I was preparing for my first IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle and obsessing about everything I should be doing to give me the best chance of success. I researched online, participated in forums, changed my diet, adjusted my fitness routine and thought about very little else besides getting pregnant.
One night, while watching television, I happened to catch an episode of Big Little Lies, the series based on the Liane Moriarty novel, and was immediately hooked. I began the second episode and then had a thought – I bet I would really enjoy reading the book. I always liked to read but had not been a consistent reader since college and had not finished a book in many months. Once I began this novel, I didn’t want to put it down and realized something amazing. Being lost in this exciting story with lots of twists was the only time I wasn’t thinking about my treatments. I was truly relaxed.
When I finished that book, I jumped into The Husband’s Secret, and then read The Girl On The Train, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Handmaid’s Tale, Orphan Train, and The Nightingale. I didn’t stop. I began making a special effort to visit independent bookstores when I traveled. I started a Goodreads account to track my reading and get ideas for what I would read next. I even started listening to podcasts about reading. I traded books with my mom and became a source for friends looking for their next read. I was tremendously proud to be a reader again and felt so good about myself. It was therapy I desperately needed, a safe escape that had benefits of confidence and knowledge I could have never imagined.
Meanwhile, in real life, the treatments continued and failed forcing me to be patient and wait between cycles. I filled up my time with books to help with the stress and anxiety. By the end of that year I had read 25 books (more than I ever read before) and was finally pregnant with my son. I read through the nights when I was too uncomfortable to sleep. I read in my hospital bed during my 30+ hours of labor (not much, but my book was there for me). Then I read while I nursed my baby boy in the middle of the night and now read to him every day. The material might be different but what a joy it is to share a story with my child.
It’s been over two and half years since I first picked up Big Little Lies. Approximately 85 books later, it is still my escape from the stress of life. I do what I can to read at least a few pages of my current book every day.
I’ve heard that instead of a person finding the right book, sometimes the right book finds you. I have certainly experienced that magic. I will always be grateful for Liane Moriarty’s story to have found me, giving me what I needed and then showing me how special a reading life can be. Sometimes, the right book is just what the doctor ordered.