I read constantly when I was younger. In the summer I’d walk to my local library a few times a week, sat in my friends bedrooms and read with them, in the hazy light and sticky heat; we discussed the different books we were reading. It wasn’t really a hobby for me. Just something I was always doing. It’s been years since I read to Kill a Mockingbird, but one of the passages I remember from it is one where Scout was ruminating on reading. Compared it to breathing, in that it wasn’t something she thought about doing, never considered. Didn’t actually actively like it. It was something that was an intrinsic part of her being.
While I stopped reading so often, I never stopped loving it. Life just got in the way as it so often does. Then it stopped being something I did purely for pleasure as I pursued an English degree, and every book I read was an assignment. Every page I read that wasn’t in my required reading list made me feel guilty because the enjoyment I derived from that didn’t contribute towards productivity and gains.
Whelp. I have my 2:1 and now I have full autonomy over what I read, and how often I do it, what pace I do it in, and what I do with the stories I’ve head after the last page has been turned. This is what I intend to do: read books that genuinely interest me, enthral me, educate me.
Last year I aimed to read 26 books, but of course I still had the last leg of my degree to tackle. When lockdown came about, I definitely picked up how much reading I did for fun, especially when all of my work for my English class was completed and handed in. I’ve always thought of myself as a slow reader, but I picked up Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine in the summer and devoured it in a handful of sittings, in less than a week. It was a truly gorgeous and devastating book.
By no means did I reach my goal of 26 books (I got to 11) but I’m not gonna let myself feel let down over that. In October I started working a job I did not enjoy in the slightest and found myself too drained in my free time to sit down and put the mental effort into picking up a book, even though I would have definitely enjoyed doing so.
Again, this years goal is 26 books. That works out at one every two weeks. On Wednesday 6th I finished my first book of the year, Expectation by Anna Hope, which I started reading late September/early October 2020. I got to about the 40-page mark, so had consumed nowhere near the majority of it, so I’m still counting it towards my goal for the year. An additional, sub-goal type thing I have, is to review every book I read this year. ‘Cause fuck it. It’s fun.
Other sub-goals would be expanding what I read; I’m so into YA and contemporary literary fiction, but I’d like to delve back into horror, which was the main genre I’d read and write when I was younger. I’d also like to consume more poetry, maybe some non-fiction (which I NEVER read), and all sorts of different things. I’m really not sure, to be honest, so recommendations are welcome! Also, I would love to read more emerging, newly published writers, so please hit me up with any debuts.
Challenging myself to read however many books is troublesome. I definitely want to get that positive chemical (serotonin? Is that the one? Who knows), the one you get when you complete a task, and I definitely want to expand the library of books I’ve read? But then, I can’t get the good feeling of completing a task without considering it to be a task. A chore. And that’s where I start to feel tied down, compelled, pressured. This is where I have to remember that this is something I actively enjoy, something that will make me feel good. So far, I’ve read every day this year, except the first. I know six days isn’t that much of an accomplishment, but a small accomplishment is still something, and six days is on it’s way to a week, which is on its way to a month, and doing something every day becomes habitual. Like breathing.