Reading, Depression, & That One 5-Star Book I Found In 2016

Over the past few years I’ve come to realize that you handle depression differently as time goes on. Hopefully this – by “this” I mean both the handling and the realization – sounds familiar to anyone else who has also struggled with mental illness, because it’s something I didn’t know anything about a few years ago and now I think about it a lot.

For instance, depression has affected my reading.

I don’t want to go into too much personal history here since A) I’d like to concentrate on something specific to this year and B) I plan to write a more comprehensive post about depression and reading later, but I will give a little bit of context because I think this post warrants it: As I’ve mentioned before, I can trace this current bout of depression back to about November 2012, which means I’ve been depressed for four years, give or take.

a game of thronesI didn’t read much in 2013. I read some books that I loved that year, such as The Miseducation of Cameron Post and A Game of Thrones, so that was nice. But honestly, I barely read anything that year.

I read A LOT in 2014. Like, so much. SO MUCH. I read 203 books! That’s an accomplishment anyone would be proud of, let alone someone with depression.

I read 100 books in 2015, which didn’t feel like very many books compared to how many I read the previous year. It was exactly the number I’d set as my Goodreads reading challenge goal, though. So I should be proud of myself for that.

And this year? I’ve read 65 books so far in 2016.

I honestly do think I’m on track to accomplish this year’s Goodreads goal, however. MOSTLY BECAUSE I’M VERY STUBBORN WHEN I WANT TO BE and there is no way I’ll let myself not reach this goal.

But it’s been hard. Very hard. I can’t focus as well as I used to. I don’t have the same interest in stories that I once did, as much as it pains me to say that. I’m too sad and/or tired to read. I’m too sad/or tired to do my homework and so when I finally do finish my homework, there’s no time left to read because I’ve wasted it all sleeping or sitting, immobile, feeling like I should do something.

It’s been kind of interesting, in a detached and vaguely scientific way, to see how I react and adapt to depression. Back in 2014 I was REALLY GOOD at pushing through sadness and worry and, oh god, those OCD thoughts that circle around and around and around and, just when you think they’ve left your mind for good, come back.

This year I’m not so good at that. I have a few ideas as to why but I won’t go into those since this post isn’t about them. This post is about how I’d read more than one hundred books by April or May in 2014 but am still struggling to pass the seventy-book mark in late November of 2016, with the new year less than a month and a half away.

It happens.

I’ll deal with it.

between the world and meActually, the real reason I’m writing this post is that I’ve only read one five-star book so far. I’ve been thinking about this the past few months: I probably won’t read a second one, although I certainly won’t rule out that possibility. Just doesn’t seem likely, considering how few books I’ve read this year and how stingy I am with my five-star ratings.

The book, if you’re wondering, is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ brilliant work of nonfiction Between the World and Me. I read it in February. GOD, THAT SEEMS SO LONG AGO. I’d love to find another five-star book sometime this year, but I’d be content with reading only three- and four- star books during these last few weeks of 2016 too. (Happily, I have read very few one- and two-star books! Yay!)

Depression sucks. I still have an interest in books, but it’s just not as strong – so I keep adding and adding and adding books to my TBR, but not actually reading them. I feel hopelessly behind at times and motivated at others. Right now I feel motivated, as a matter of fact, if a little regretful that I didn’t read more this year and whittle down my TBR.

Oh, well. I’m planning to read all day today. A bookish burst, if you will. Just push through. I have a stack of books picked out and I’ve already been working my way through it. (This is, in fact, a scheduled post, because I wanted to spend as much time reading as possible.) Happy reading, everyone!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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7 Responses to Reading, Depression, & That One 5-Star Book I Found In 2016

  1. mudandstars says:

    I relate to this so much. I have depression too, and reading can be such a challenge at times, even though it’s the thing I love most. Depression saps my interest, my energy, and my motivation to read, which sucks in general, but sucks especially when you have a book blog (which is pretty hard to maintain when you don’t feel like reading). I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t really matter how many books I read, but here’s a part of me that always feels like I’ve failed if I don’t hit a certain number. I think next year I might just not participate in the Goodreads challenge, because it’s made me so stressed this year.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Exactly. I know that how many books I read in a year matters to no one else but me, but I still feel terrible about letting myself down because my brain won’t function properly and let me enjoy even simple things like reading. :/

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • mudandstars says:

        You said it perfectly – my brain wants to spoil even the things I enjoy, and makes me feel guilty when I can’t do them. I have problems with TV shows too. I get behind on watching something because I have periods where I can’t concentrate enough to watch TV, and when I have to catch up on them, I get really anxious about it, almost like it’s a chore or a job I have to do in a certain amount of time, and I fail if I don’t succeed. Which sounds ridiculous, I know!

  2. orphu44 says:

    Happy reading! I hope you have a lovely bookish day.

  3. I really hope your depression gets a bit easier to manage in the future. It must be incredibly hard to not have the motivation to do something you really love.

    I just stopped by to say that I noticed you’ve been following my blog. I’m moving to a new domain, and I don’t know if my followers will automatically move over. I’m going to be at now. Thank you for taking the time to read my posts. I’ve been a big fan of your blog for a while now, so I have to say I fangirled a bit when you followed me, haha.

    Sending love.

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