On not being "a reader" anymore
For the last four or five years– ever since I started graduate school and a full-time job– I’ve been finding it more difficult to focus on reading books. I start them, but don’t finish. I collect them, but they never move from the shelf. I borrow them from the library, but return them with spines still uncracked. Mostly, I don’t read like I used to (aka multiple books per week).
There’s a couple reasons for this. Being tired from grad school + work is one reason, though really that’s only half a reason because I’m not in grade school any more. Being busy trying to start my own business is a reason, and a pretty good one. Feeling un-enthusiastic about the books I’m reading is another, and a scary reason.
Honestly, I think it’s that last excuse that’s the biggest problem. I just don’t feel excited to read, not like I used to. Have I run out of things to read, or have I just become stagnant in my reading choices?
When I can’t find something in my preferred genre I no longer branch out into different genres like I used to. I just stop reading. I have a massive TBR, but all the titles have blurred together and I can’t remember why I added them on there in the first place.[1. I feel a little like the protagonist from The Phantom Tollbooth, when he can’t find anything to entertain himself because he’s bored with everything? But I can’t just wait for my own Tollbooth to show up; I’ll have to make one.]
Also! And this is super important: I don’t have my reading community anymore! I’ve abandoned Twitter, I’m not on Instagram, I deleted Goodreads, I don’t hang out in my RSS feed reading new posts.[2. I fragmented my online personality into: business, fandom/personal, and bookish. I can’t keep up with all 3, so bookish died. Maybe business should die instead, and fandom/personal should meld with bookish?] I don’t do reading challenges or readathons or any other fun community things. Part of the fun of reading was sharing that experience with my friends, and I totally let that part drop– from feeling guilty about not reading, or hanging out online.
- Free time is now spent doing non-book things.
- Don’t want to make free time for books because I don’t want to read any of my TBR.
- TBR is TOO full.
- TBR is too similar?
- Don’t have book friends to encourage me to read.
- Don’t know where book friends went (many have also stopped posting).
- Don’t know how to find book friends if not on social media.
For a really long time, being known as “a reader” made me feel important and accomplished. Can I still call myself “a reader” if I’ve only finished like 3 books in 6 months? Is it really all that important to my self-worth to be “a reader”?
I’m afraid the answer is “yes.” Or at least, I miss how I felt when I knew myself to be “a reader.” Not being a reader for the last handful of years has made me feel horrible, to the point where I nearly deleted this blog at least twice. How can I be a book blogger if I don’t read any books?
Well, pooh to that. I AM still a reader, and I WILL get back into reading books, and I WILL find a book community, and I WILL post things on this blog and have FUN AGAIN, damnit!
- Join one (1) reading challenge or event.
- Pick one (1) social media thing to join that doesn’t make me stress out. (Suggestions welcome.)
- Post two (2) posts to the blog per week, to get back into the swing of things.
- Leave three (3) comments on other book blogs per week, to forge community connections.
I deliberately did not put a specific # of books to read because I don’t want to force myself to finish something just to check that box. I DO want to write about what I’m reading, but I’m okay with it being more of a general “what I’m reading this week” kinda thing than a specific number of book reviews.
Well, what do you think? How have your reading habits changed over the years? Do you still consider yourself a reader, or has adult life intervened to the point where everything stinks?
I seem to always want to read books I don’t actually have, but when books I wanted come into the house, they don’t excite me any more. I do read lots still, but with less avid desire and more because I feel I have to. I also miss re-reading lots! It’s been years since I had no new books in the house, and wandered my own shelves…. I hope your plan to make reading a big part of your live again works.
Thanks so much! I’m hoping that doing book blogging will help propel me forward into reading more…one reason I read SO MUCH years ago was to have something to blog about, so it might work again!
Alison @ Alison in Bookland (formerly The Cheap Reader)
I’m glad to see you back in ‘reading world’! I did the same thing a few years back and basically abandoned the community. I’d say you’re a reader if you finish 1 book a year or 1 book a day. It’s the love of books that ties us together. Work and juggling adult life really put a damper on my reading. Audiobooks and graphic novels have been my saving grace these past few years.