Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Very Slow Reading Year

Last year, I managed to read 203 books! Now that’s quite impressive for me. I was reading A LOT in high school, but I’m fairly certain it was never that much. I don’t even know how I did it, considering that I was in college with a full load of classes plus work and I was commuting which took up enough time on its own. But I did. I read over 200 books, and for fun, here is what the year looks like on Goodreads:

2014 reading year.png

I mean, LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE. Lots of 3, 3.5, 4, and 4.5 stars (but look at the goddamn pesky little 0 star there). I’d call that excellent. I think I’ve gotten better at figuring out what I’ll like based on descriptions and general feelings from other bloggers. I’m not picky, per se, since I’d like to think I’d give almost all of them a chance. Because you never know, sometimes I’m the positive black sheep with a book and I wave my hands in the air like I just don’t care who hates it. But it’s been way easier to decide if something is a “me” book. And if it’s not, well, there’s that handy DNF button I hit when I’ve had enough.

But this year, I’m not exactly sure why I’m not reading as much, especially considering that I was reading more when I was MUCH busier. It’s not like I haven’t had the time. Over the summer, all I had were 3 online classes and that was it. I wasn’t working, so I had all of this free time. I don’t even remember how I spent it all, honestly. It’s kinda a blur of Netflix, sleep, and Twittering. And even though I wasn’t doing anything, I stayed away from picking up books and from blogging. I got into such a slump, and I don’t think that’s ever really disappeared. It seems to have just gotten worse since August. I AM reading a bit more now, but it’s super slow. I mean, I read ONE book in September and that was hard. And since then, it’s been an agonizingly turtle race to get to where I am now. I’m finally turning away from the “I want to read but I actually don’t” mood, but I still have slumpy feelings when I think about having to blog about the books afterward.

When I was lamenting about the fact that I still haven’t reached 100 books on my Goodreads challenge yet (which is my goal) on Twitter, I decided after talking with a few other people that I wanted to take a look at how things have been different since last year. How I went from an increase in the amount I read from 2013-2014 to struggling with making my Goodreads goal in 2015.  I wanted to figure out what’s changed and what I can do to make it better for myself. And I think I’ve found the reasons behind this massive slump.

It’s at least 99% personal shit. After the spring semester, I got hit with feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and resentment. Junior year got only slightly better than sophomore year, but I was still angry over the destruction of the friendships I made in the beginning of my college career. I was still upset I wasn’t going to get summer hours at the library, and that I’d have to search for another job. I did start earlier than last year, but I didn’t try hard enough. And over the course of summer, those negative feelings just got worse, and I could barely find the energy to escape into the hobby that had gotten me through so much in my life. I was basically drowning, and I didn’t want to come up for air for anything, even reading.

I got into the worst blogging slump. I was feeling super down about my blog, and I just wanted to quit in August. I was so ready to throw in the towel. I didn’t know what I was doing, where I was going, and why it felt like I was still in the same place I was in the beginning. I was feeling inadequate, disappointed, and hurt that nothing I did seemed to be working. I didn’t want to write any reviews when I knew not many people were going to read them anyway, and I felt that they were starting to sound the same. Now most of this is MY OWN insecurities, my own mind playing with my heart. My confidence had wavered, and my passion had dried up. It affected me so much that I only posted 8 times in August, and then again in September.It’s partly why I also got into the reading slump. Because I didn’t want to review the books afterward. I took a semi-break then, let myself stop feeling guilty about not being able to post. And I changed my philosophy: just do whatever you can, only publish posts that YOU’RE excited about, and take your time. So I did, and it’s helped immensely. I may still not know what I want out of blogging exactly, or how to go about making it better and more fun for me to write reviews especially, but I’m giving myself the time to figure it out. And I’m thankful you’re all sticking around until I do. <3

I got sick in August. Most of you know by now that I was dealing with kidney stones in August. I had surgery the first week of September, and for six weeks, I was recovering. For six weeks, I was pretty much on bedrest. It took the little energy and strength I had just to get out of bed and go to classes. It really put a lot on me, and I was so stressed and anxiety-filled about everything. So I just Netflixed for six weeks. Instead of reading, I binge-watched TV shows. You would think that if I had all of that time, and I was resting, that I’d be able to read. But I just can’t when I’m sick and in pain. When I’m dealing with illness, I find it hard to concentrate on anything. And for reading, you HAVE to concentrate. You have to pay attention and really focus or you’ll miss out on important things. It took way too much effort to read, so I didn’t.

I also started to take my time with books. Here’s a positive reason for the slow reading months! I’ve always been a pretty fast reader, but ever since blogging, that has increased tenfold. My eyes were opened up to SO MUCH, and I found out about all of these books and I just had to read them right. this. second. There are so many, and I want to be able to get to all of them! But am I losing something precious when I pick up another book immediately after finishing one? I’ve noticed, in my slow crawl back to reading, that I’m spending more time thinking about the books I read. I do miss out on something when I speed read through a really good book. I’ve come to realize that a lot. Do I think I don’t get as much out of them as people who read slowly? No! But I do think that savoring books, reading them over the course of a week or several, is just as fun as speeding through one. I did that with Uprooted back in May, and then again with Illuminae in August. And I STILL think about those books now because they made such an impact on me. And I LOVED savoring those feelings and those reading experiences.

I wanted to spend more time in the moment. Reading has always given me an escape, but sometimes I feel like it becomes my crutch, something that prevents me from living my life. Instead of spending a few hours in the pages of a book, I can spend that time playing video games with my little brother, watching a movie out in the living room so I’m closer to my family, going outside to see the cats. Sure, I’ve wasted precious time when I could’ve been reading, but I think that most times it’s worth it. It’s worth putting the book down and getting out, even if for a little bit, even if you don’t truly want to. It’s worth living in the moment instead of wishing you hadn’t spent that special time with your mind and heart inside of a book than on the people who matter more than fictional characters.

I’m never going to read all of the books I want to before I die. That’s just not possible, and I know that. I wish I could read faster, so that I could get to more of them, but I also love taking my time. I love that I want to start making sure that I’m reading for quality over quantity. And I want to do better at putting a book down when I should, when I need to spend more time with my family and friends. I know that the slump is still here, in the corners of my mind, because I have these moments of back and forth where I ultimately decide on Netflix instead. I still don’t want to review them too, and I want to catch up on my outstanding ones before adding another to the pile. So I know that how I’m blogging needs to change a little, to accommodate the fact that I want to make it different. That I want to read more from my shelves and kindle than on NetGalley or Edelweiss, that I want to stop requesting ARCs almost completely because they’re too much pressure and stress I don’t need anymore. There are so many reasons why I’m not reading right now, and why I still haven’t reached my Goodreads goal after ten months. And I think I still just need time to find the passion for the hobby again. I’m hoping to make 2016 so much better than this year, and I have a few months to figure it out yet. I’ll just keep reading as slow and as few books as I want until then, and I’m okay with that, because I don’t want to burn myself out even more than I have already.


Have any of you ever experienced a really nasty reading slump? Did you ever figure out what was causing it so you could find out how to make it better? Has the amount YOU’VE been reading fluctuate throughout the years? If so, why?

4 comments:

  1. I have had the same problem as you :( So much has happen this year which has lead to a slow reading year, But I have read some great books nonetheless :)

    I have nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award and you can check out my post here: http://abookparadise.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/sisterhood-of-world-bloggers-award-2.html Congrats and have a nice day :)

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  2. I think it mostly has to do with me being still new in the community, but I felt inadequate a lot of the time. I have gotten a lot better over the past few months. I still do get in a little rut, though, from time to time. I have moments where I question whether I should sit down and watch Netflix, because god forbid I am not reading. It’s totally ok to not want to read all the time, though. I guess I try not to take blogging too seriously. I know I am never going to be a "popular" blogger and I'm ok with that. And honestly, I prefer when bloggers only post a few times a week. :)

    Sarah @ Kerosene Lit

    PS I totally put Sarah @ The Reading Petal at first. XD

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  3. I see how fast some others bloggers are flying through books - 3, 4 and even more - in a week and it can be a little disheartening. I average about a book a week. I would love to be able to read that fast, to share that many reviews, to plow through my TBR like that... but I can't. I have to stop and remind myself sometimes to just read at my own pace and - like you said - SAVOR it. There is no competition and I like to take my time and truly immerse myself in a story. Not fly through it just so I can dive into the next one. Sure that means that it'll take me ages to read all these wonderful books that I'm excited to read... but it's all about enjoyment so that's what I try to do. :)

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

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  4. YOU SOUND LIKE ME. Inadequacy, disappointment, an a huge pile of insecurities (instead of resentment--but maybe that's there, too) just dumped on me this year too, so I totally get you! I can't really say I've had a slow reading year, but it's not been great with blogging. Actually, I think I went through almost the same blogging slump as you. (It's so weird how much I'm relating to this post right now.)

    Savoring books is so NICE. If I'm really excited for a book, I will wait for a time that I know I'll have extra time to devote to it so I can truly dive into it.

    I love your last statement, in the bold. I'm so glad you're sticking with what you're okay with.☺

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Comments always make me smile. :) Seriously. Even if you comment on the post weeks or months later, it makes my day! So don't hesitate to leave your thoughts even if it's been a long time since the post was published. I'll try to reply to you, especially if you ask a question, but sometimes life happens. But I do read and appreciate every single one of them because I know how hard it can be to find the time or energy to comment. So a heartfelt THANK YOU for brightening my day when you do. <3