I love to read. You don’t have to spend very much time with me at all to realize this. I talk about books, I have a tattoo of a girl reading on my arm, I write about books, I listen to audiobooks, the list continues.
In the past three years my number of books read has gone as follows:
2015: 73 books
2016: 80 books
2017: 48 books
2018: 60+ (I didn’t track all of them)
And what about this year? Well, as I sit and write this I have read 25 books. And it is very close to the end of the year.
25 books is a respectable number, nothing wrong with that (except for the fact that in terms of my own personal statistics it is almost half the amount of the second lowest I have come in the past 5 years).
But the number doesn’t tell the whole story because four of those books I did not complete 100%. I just read enough of them that I felt I had grasped enough of the general plot/concept and declared them “read” on Goodreads. Two of them are also <3 hour long Audible originals which were honestly more like podcasts than books. So if we take that into account my stats are looking more like 14 books for this year. And if we aren’t counting rereads… we are down to 5.
There are several reasons for this sad reading year. Emotional struggles that have hit me hard, a very busy schedule that has not allowed me to sit down and read as often as I would like, a general disinterest in reading several of the books I have tried (I counted 31 books the other day that I have picked up at some point this year and given up on sometimes more than halfway through).
But I have learned a few things through this experience that have been valuable, even though I hope to be back to reading many books again soon.
Learning Has Many Different Forms
I have always loved to learn and so reading has often been one of the ways I have been able to pursue knowledge quickly and in a pleasurable way.
However, this year I have realized that you can learn a lot from things like podcasts, articles you can find online, talking to people and making sure you are focused on what they are saying, and more.
One of the problems I have run into in the past is feeling like if I am reading something that I can’t track on Goodreads, I am wasting my time. However, this is completely the wrong mindset. Reading is reading and it can take many different forms and a lot of them are really good alternatives to reading a long book when you simply aren’t in the place to do that.
Music and Silence Are Good Too
Since I was able to drive, I have been listening to audiobooks while I did. I could get through 2-3 hours of audio-reading a day and so I always viewed this as a way to take back “lost time”.
But this year I have learned the value of being alone with my own thoughts in the car and processing whatever I need to process, praying about the things I need to pray about. I have also learned the value of singing along to music when I am stressed and just need a break from the world.
Being in the car is not lost time, it’s the time you make it be. And sometimes it’s ok to just sit and drive. There is no pressure to make that time count for something visible such as a Goodreads reading goal.
If I Can’t Read, I’ll Make You Read
Just because my reading life has been slow and I haven’t gotten as much reading in as I would like to, doesn’t mean I am going to stop loving books or talking about them.
This year I have started listening to podcasts of other people who love to read and it has made me excited to try some of those books when I am back to my normal pace again. I have read many articles about books. I have read articles about reading. And I have sent these, and book recommendations, to my family and friends hoping to encourage them to read more than I do.
If I can’t read, I’ll try live vicariously live through other people who can read.
Sometimes Life Has Invisible Struggles
Even though I look happy and I feel happy a lot of the time, I know the biggest cause for my reading slump has been emotional struggles. These struggles are not always front of mind, visible to other people or understandable to me. However, they can affect the things you love most.
At the end of the day I have learnt to be kinder to myself and less hard on myself. Reading is there for my pleasure and enjoyment, not for me to check it off a list. When I am enjoying it, I can do so wholeheartedly; when I am not, it’s ok to do something else.