I confess – I’m not always in the mood to read. After a long day spent at uni and an even longer drive back home I’m often too tired and anxious to read and I just need something to keep my mind from overthinking. So instead I turn on my computer and watch a new episode of my favourite TV series or I sit in front of the TV and let myself be drawn to that state of numbness which is typical for when you’re staring at the screen. And yes, I love reading, I absolutely adore it, but sometimes I let the book sit in the corner and I turn away from it.
As a new bookstagrammer and bookblogger I often feel pressured to read. I look at other profiles on Goodreads and compare my reading challenge to other people’s and I feel this knot in my stomach and a voice in my head starts whispering ‘you’re not doing enough, you should read more books’. And this little voice puts me in a momentary state of despair because I feel like I can never read enough books and can’t possibly compete with more serious and well-established bloggers.
I do this with other things as well, I compare myself to my friends and then I tell myself I’m not trying hard enough and I should be doing more. Lately however, this pressure has been focused primarily on my reading progress. Goodreads is a fine platform to find new books and keep tabs on your reading progress but since I’ve started using it in connection with this blog, I keep browsing through other people’s updates and I feel like they’re constantly reading and well, I’m not. I then ask myself how can they possibly have that much free time on their hands to read all the time.
Regarding my reading pace, I do know I’m not the fastest reader but I like it that way. I like to take time with my books, to look at how they’re written and not only what they’re saying. I often admire paragraphs or sentences and look at how they’re structured because I want to understand how the author came to that and why they used this particular style of writing. Reading is as much entertainment as it is research for me.
I asked my friend about her experiences with reading under pressure (she studies literature) and she said that she often feels pressured into reading classics because that’s what you’re supposed to read as a literature student. But she loves romance novels and so she reads mostly that. It’s also true with fantasy – when I say I love Harry Potter and fantasy novels, a lot of people start smirking and saying ‘that’s not real books’. Who says so? I am so tired of people nagging me about my reading choices. If you want to read boring old Tolstoy in order to appear smart and educated (even though you probably don’t understand a word of what he’s saying) then please do that but stop critisizing me for the books I enjoy reading.
There is a certain pressure in this community to constantly be on the lookout for the newest literary trends but I refuse to be affected by it. Too many times I got frustrated by reading a hyped book (bestsellers even) because at the end of the day they just weren’t good, the story was unimaginative, the writing poor and the plot twists predictable. I take time in choosing the books I want to read and that often pays out. But it’s really hard to stay strong under all this pressure and to read the books you want to read and not look at what other people are reading.
Writing this has helped me to accept the fact that I will never be able to read all the books I want. There are so many of them and that’s good because it means there is always a new adventure waiting for me around the corner. Can you imagine running out of reading material and being bored with what your local library has to offer? I hope it never comes to that. In the future I will try to remind myself that if I pick up a book I will do it because I enjoy reading and I want to know where the story will lead me. Some night I’ll be too tired to read and instead I’ll watch TV and that’s okay. It just means that when I’ll eventually start reading again, it will be that more precious to me.