I’ve read seven books so far this year.
According to my Goodreads account, at this same time last year I’d read forty-one books.
But this year is different. And that’s all right.
I haven’t finished a book since the second week of January. I haven’t even started a book since then. My life has been book-free for three months now, which feels A) weird and B) awesome.
Last year, I read two hundred and three books, far surpassing my original goal of one hundred. And sometimes… sometimes reading that much – that intensely – just wasn’t fun.
I raced through books last year. I sped through stories as if it was a contest to see who could read more, and I didn’t really let myself pause to savor those stories. After finishing a book, I moved on to my next read without giving myself any time to reflect upon what I’d just read.
And without giving myself any time to just, you know, not read. To take a break from reading and do something else, like going for a walk or doing art or hanging out with my friends.
I slogged through a lot of books that I didn’t particularly enjoy because my reasoning was, “Well, this is short, so I’ll be able to finish it quickly and add it to my list.” I mean, I’m a tough critic when it comes to books anyway, but I had a lot of average (or below-average!) reads last year.
Last year, I put quantity before quality.
This year, I’m rethinking my priorities.
Don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of good bookish memories from last year. I found some new favorite authors. (Malinda Lo and Derek Landy and Marissa Meyer!) I read some beautiful books that just blew me away with their perfection, such as V for Vendetta and Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I further explored the world of graphic novels, and I fell in love with comic books. I started bringing books to work to read during my break, and I read nine books in eight days while on vacation in Utah this past August.
But there were also a lot of times when I was… completely sick of books, if I’m honest. Because I pushed myself too hard. The numbers became the most important part of my reading experience in 2014, and I lost sight of other things.
Like enjoyment. Like taking a week to read a book even though I could conceivably cram it into one day, or even one afternoon.
And I’m trying to fix that this year. I stopped reading in January because I just wasn’t in a bookish mood. I felt sort of “blah” about the whole thing, and I’ve been in a reading slump ever since.
And I’m trying to get back out of it, but I also don’t want to go back to the pace I set last year. This reading slump has been quite helpful in teaching me this little lesson, actually: It’s OK to take a break!
Part of the blame for this issue lies with my “all or nothing” tendencies when it comes to working on, well… any type of project at all. And part of it lies with my feelings that I should be The Perfect Bookworm. If I really and truly love books then I should be reading all the time, right?!
Hmm. Maybe not. Actually, how about “no” for an answer?
So this year, I’m trying to slow down. If I’m not in the mood to read then I won’t push myself through a book, and I’ll try not to think of the time I spend doing something else as “time I could’ve used to read a book.”
I’ll work on setting aside books that don’t interest me as much as I thought they would, in favor of picking up stories I’ll love. I’ll try not to pick up quite as many random books from the library, and devote my time to the stories already on my to-be-read list.
One hundred books in 2015 is still my reading goal, but I also don’t plan on reading as many books as I did last year. I need to learn that reading fewer books is perfectly fine if I make those books really count by reading stuff I really enjoy, and not just… whatever.
Last year, reading turned into something of a chore. A race. An endless slog through the wastelands of mind-numbingly average books. To be completely honest, the main reason I read so many books last year is that such a long list looks impressive – to other people. This year, I’m hoping to focus on reading fewer books, but with an overall higher proportion of books that impress me.
So I’m trying to get back into this whole reading thing. I don’t know if my reading slump will end tomorrow or in another few weeks, but it’ll be soon. I’ve borrowed a bunch of books from the library and am looking forward to reading the stuff I’ve REALLY BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR AGES.
I’ve borrowed all the volumes of Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga graphic novels, which I’ve heard so much about and have been dying to read. I have two different versions of Harry Potter and Philosophy, which I’ve been meaning to take a look at since practically forever. I’m curious to see how Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series ends in The Dying of the Light. I’d like to reread A Feast for Crows (because I last read it in 2013, and there are large chunks that I don’t even remember) and then read A Dance with Dragons.
This year, I’d like to focus more on reading what I WANT to read, and not what I feel I SHOULD read. I mean, sometimes in life you have to do things you don’t particularly want to do, and that’s fine – but I’ll save that for other areas of my life, thank you very much. I don’t want to do that with books. I’m not going to read A Dance with Dragons because I HAVE to – because I have to check it off my list and add another book to the “finished” pile. I’m going to read it because I want to.
Forget about numbers and lists and achievements – I’d rather have memories. Here’s to a (hopefully) better and more fulfilling year of reading in 2015!