I Stopped Trying to Read Every Day (And Maybe You Should Too) | Discussion

Now, you may be looking at the title and wondering if I’m crazy. I often wonder that about myself too. However, I don’t think this is the deciding factor on that front.

I mentioned this in my June Wrap Up post, but I’ve started to read for quality over quantity. It’s something I’m still working on and will probably continue having to actively think about for a while, but I’m slowly starting to find the benefits of it. That has turned into allowing myself days when I don’t read at all. It almost pains me to say that, like I’m worried someone’s going to come and revoke my metaphorical book nerd card for admitting it.

I think it has become especially hard to give myself reading breaks since I joined the bookstagram and book blogging community. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret it one bit and I wouldn’t change my experience here for anything, but I do think it made me put more pressure on myself to read more. Now, I absolutely want to read more. I just don’t want to feel like I have to read more. It’s like when you’re planning on cleaning your room, and then your parent comes in and tells you to do it, and all of a sudden the last thing you want to do is clean your room. I want to read because I want to, not because there’s an external (and imaginary) voice saying, “This is something you must do if you want to keep your place in this community.”

Up until last month, I was deliberately forcing myself to read every day and to plow through books, because I had this idea in my head that to be a “good” reader and blogger, I had to read 10+ books a month. For me, there was this perception that if everyone else can do it, I can and should too, and if I wasn’t, then I was doing something wrong.

Real quick fact: that’s bullshit. Pardon my French, but, for one, there’s no such thing as a “good” reader. If you’re reading what you want, when you want, as much as you want, then you’re a good reader. And second, there’s no reason you should use others to set your expectations for yourself, in this or in any aspect of your life. Like I said, I would love to be able to read more and blow through 15 books a month, but the reality is that I can’t and, honestly, don’t really want to. I’m just too busy with other things and too dedicated to sleep to prioritize hours upon hours of reading every day. Would I like to have all the time in the world to read? Absolutely. I always say that my dream job is getting paid to read. But that’s not where I am right now and have to accept it.

Another thing I’m learning as I slow down with reading is that I’m enjoying my books more. This really started with The World in the Evening in June. The book was a gift from my cousin, and he told me that it was his favorite book, so when I picked it up, I really wanted to give it all my attention and energy. That meant that there were times reading it didn’t feel right. I did try to speed through at the beginning, but I found myself not enjoying it, and not because I didn’t like it. Something about it just seemed wrong when I tried to read it without all my focus, like I wasn’t doing it justice or giving it all it deserved. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the story and wanted to stop – I did like it and wanted to keep reading – but I just couldn’t get into it at all. What I ultimately did was take a step back, didn’t pick it up for a couple days, and made sure I was reading slowly when I did start it again. And it did wonders. Suddenly I was engaged and invested, and I started to understand what it was about the book that my cousin loved.

Some books require more attention, and that’s just how it is. For instance, most of us can’t dive into a Shakespeare play and understand every line the first time around, let alone if you’re trying to read it at 200 words a minute. I’ve always known this, but always assumed it only applied for classics or books I had to read for school, and that’s just not the case. I’m definitely noticing it more now that I’m reading more adult novels, rather than just YA books. Now, don’t think I’m saying that YA books can’t be deep and insightful and beautifully written, and that adult books have to be that way. I’m not. I am saying that YA books do tend to be more action-packed and fast-paced, which leads to a generally faster and more surface reading experience. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s just a style and it’s as valid as any other. I think that was a mistake I made when I read The Secret History last month. I tried to read it like a YA thriller, even though that’s not at all what it is. I think you have to understand that different styles and genres read differently and you can’t treat them all the same. Some books need to be devoured, while others need to be digested.

The most important thing this change has taught me is that, if I slow down even just a little, I appreciate and enjoy what I’m reading way more. Yes, I can still read a book in a day or two and absolutely adore it, but if I take a little more time with it, I catch all the nuances. It’s not necessarily close reading, like they tell you to do in school, but it’s just giving the text a little more attention. I’ve found that it really completes my reading experience and gives the book a new perspective and depth that I hadn’t been noticing. Now, the flip side of this is that I notice more things that I don’t like, but even that adds to the book. I don’t expect any book to be perfect and seeing its issues means I have more to think about and discuss, whether I write a review or not. It makes reading more interesting and intellectual, even when I’m not trying to read with an analysis in mind.

let's chat

What do you think? Do you prefer books you can read quickly, in one sitting, or ones you can take your time with and think a little more about? Have you found a good middle ground? How do you keep reading from becoming another chore?

Keep reading (for fun!),

Francesca M. Healy (1)

 

 

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16 thoughts on “I Stopped Trying to Read Every Day (And Maybe You Should Too) | Discussion

  1. Loved reading this post and I totally agree! I also realize that if I’m reading something I really enjoy, I go through it pretty quick which then allows me to actually read more books rather than forcing myself to finish a book and getting stuck just because…. Does that make sense? Anyway, whenever I can’t get into a book because I’m just not in the mood for the genre or something, I usually just put it on hold and pick up something else that I like. I also agree with this — “Some books need to be devoured, while others need to be digested.” I tend to devour romance books like nothing so those are my go to books since I just want to relax after work. I save fantasy, thriller, adult books with a lot of complexities when I know I can sit down, take my time, and really digest the stories.

    I hope you continue to read what you love and have fun with it =)

    XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of that makes total sense. I have such a bad habit of trying to push through when I get stuck on a book because I feel like I have to give it a chance right away. I’m always worried I’ll say I’ll come back to it but never will. I really need to learn that sometimes it’s ok to not finish a book if I’m not feeling it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ” If you’re reading what you want, when you want, as much as you want, then you’re a good reader.” is honestly the best line I have read in a while. I agree with you, I never rush through books or anything unless I want to because I am enjoying them so much. I may read everyday, but I don’t read a book everyday. When I finished a book I usually wait a few days after to pick up another one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, I wish I had the patience to wait a day before starting a new book 😅 That’s about the only habit I have that doesn’t apply to this for me. If I finish a book I love, I tend to be in a great reading mood and want to pick something new up. If I finish a book I didn’t like, I want to get my head out of that world and into a new one. It’s pretty incongruous with everything I say here, but I rarely feel that sort of book hangover other people seem to experience, so I really do prefer to just move right along to the next thing. I do totally see where it comes from, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome discussion post! I definitely think starting out in the book community, there is a lot of pressure to read as many books as you can. It took me awhile to learn that it doesn’t work for me either. Now that I’m reading at my own pace, it’s a lot less stressful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree. Reading books quickly doesn’t let them sink in or let me fully process what I read. I find that i easly forget books I read too quickly. Reviewing books even briefly helps me with that.

    Ive also stopped forcing myself to read books if I’m not feeling them. I might DNF or just put them down for a bit but the easiest way to make reading not fun is forcing myself to read something for an arbitrary reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Some books need to be devoured, while others need to be digested.” I really like that observation! I’ve been using an ambitious TBR these past couple of months, but it is helping me at least have set goals/choices for reading. I’ve gone months without really picking anything up, even though I have plenty of stuff checked out from my library, and books on my shelves and ereader, so I don’t know, it’s working for me to have a list (gawrsh I love lists). And I really am not stressing (somehow) about maybe not reaching my goal. It’s just helping regardless. I’m always reading something each day, that’s just how my brain works, using it as an escape in the free moments that I get or I pause a lot with certain tasks to read a bit here or there.

    I really like this discussion prompt, though. I think it’s up to each of us to figure out what works for us, but you’re right, forcing yourself to read a ridic amount in a set time period won’t make the experience pleasurable. I am trying to read more (because I’ve been in a drought for so long) but I’m not trying to burn myself out too quickly.

    And the book community is a great motivator, because I love hearing everyone’s voices in their reviews. Even if I had a different experience reading the book, it’s really lovely getting to see different reactions and important points made by different people. An author put their words out into the world for whatever reason and we get to eat them up and it’s amazing how our tastes are so similar or not. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I have been feeling a little burned out on reading lately and chained to my ARC reading because Past Kaleena was an idiot and requested too many July & August releases. BUT this resulted in my changing how I look at requests, as well as creating a plan for TBR Tower reads alongside ARCs! I am excited to finally get to that point haha

    I definitely have days where I don’t read, and I try not to beat myself up about it but I do feel a little guilty. Some days I just want to bingewatch Project Runway or play video games and I have been allowing myself those desires. I think finding a balance so it isn’t a chore is very important to talk about.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post!! I completely agree with you! Unfortunately, when I started blogging I was so excited, I went a little crazy. I requested over 20 Netgalley books thinking “I will probably only get approved for a couple” and was approved for WAY MORE than I thought, I was accepting any author request that came my way, and I signed up for a million blog tours…. I’m STILL trying to catch up!! I haven’t been accepting much else (unless it’s something that REALLY interests me) until I get through this stuff, and then I want to leave some time to get to other books on my shelf that are getting VERY LONELY! Ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved this post and you are right. Some books just require a bit more attention, time and focus than others.
    I am not the fastest reader and always tend to read more carefully (maybe also because English isn’t my native language and I need to pay closer attention to understand everything?) and I noticed that if I do speed read I am enjoy my books way less. That being said, I do enjoy books I can fly through. I tend to pick ya contemporary (the fluffy kind) for that. It’s not my favorite genre but it’s perfect to relax my mind a bit after reading some heavier, more difficult books that need more attention.
    So yeah, I think it’s all about finding that balance for oneself.

    Liked by 1 person

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