1. Teladan

    Teladan Contributor Contributor

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    Feeling Bad for Not Reading

    Discussion in 'Discussion of Published Works' started by Teladan, Aug 12, 2020.

    I hope you'll excuse another pessimistic thread from me, readers.

    In the last few years, I've been trying to read as much as I can. I try to stand by quality over quantity and generally don't read light books, so I don't end up finishing as many as I might do if I went the other route. I certainly don't subscribe to those reading challenges aimed at reaching a numerical goal. (I once read of someone asking for a quick graphic novel to achieve 52 books in a year). I think I read about 30 books (including a few shorts) last year, some at about 500 pages. I just can't shake the feeling of always being disappointed in myself. I've read a good amount already this year, for me, but I can't help fixate on all the times I've heard people say they can read, for example, a hundred books in a year. That's just insane to me. It's a subtle, nagging feeling I can't rid myself of. I'm currently reading two books at once, one of which is an obscure Romanian philosophy text, the other is a complex psychological 'mythic' fantasy, yet I berate myself for having only read about 40 pages of each in the last two days. Sometimes I can read a 300 page book in about two or three days, but that's when I really try. Sometimes I just don't have the energy to read. Hell, I read the Iliad during my bachelor's degree exams last year and I still felt bad for not reading as much as I could. Please don't take this as a boast, it really isn't. Is there anyone else who feels this way? I have to remind myself that I also write my own stories and maybe this is what accounts for some of the fatigue. Just too many names and concepts? I want to disregard quantity altogether and just read when I feel like it. I'll admit that quite a lot of the time I read just because I remember how many books others can read. I hate to say that sometimes it feels like work. It'd be helpful to relate. Thanks.
     
  2. O.M. Hillside

    O.M. Hillside Senior Member

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    It doesn't even matter honestly. I mean, you still read. You're still exercising that part of your brain. Why would you even care about the number of books you've read? Quality matters over quantity. I mean, if I wanted to be a fiction writer, I could read a thousand books on computer science and coding and not get anywhere with that. But if I just read Of Mice and Men? That's inspiration for years if not for the rest of my life. I still think about that book and it's been at least 8 years since I read it in high school. As long as your brain is engaged, you're fine. Heck, why not re-read some of those books you've read? You're bound to notice things you didn't notice before. Maybe you'll be able to more analytically see how the author uses prose to create evocation, for example. Why read 100 books and retain little or nothing? Pointless.
     
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  3. Teladan

    Teladan Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks for the response. That's the thing: I agree with you completely. I do analysis after every book I read, quality matters does matter, and I have this conviction that I shouldn't care about quantity--yet I still do. I should just accept however much I read and be comfortable with it. Somehow that's difficult for me. Maybe because I'm prone to anxiety and worry. I know it doesn't really matter in the end though. It's just a strange feeling of guilt whenever I read about 20 pages of a story. I look at thinking, "I'll read more tomorrow." As if it's work...
     
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  4. Aceldama

    Aceldama free servant

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    Sounds like its a method of proving yourself. Youre comparing yourself with others with how much you read and you really ought not do that. Your worth as a person isn't based on how many books you can read in a year. Quality of character has nothing to do with literature.

    Perhaps stop being so harsh on yourself and leave the books to what they are, a past time or hobby.
     
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  5. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Contributor Contributor

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    I read around five books a week before college, and then during college I stopped reading for fun (perks of being a lit major before switching to a writing major) and that took all of the enjoyment of reading away from me. It's been almost ten years since I graduated and I still struggle to read sometimes.

    It isn't that I don't like reading. I love it. But somewhere along the way I lost my ability to remember how much I do.

    I could blame college. I could blame Netflix for being an easy entertainment I don't have to think much about. What it all boils down to is a lack of something on my part. Motivation? Probably.

    My advice is similar to what Alcedama said. Read when you want to and that's what matters. No one else should have an opinion about who you are as a person based on your reading habits. Read whenever and whatever you want to. Forcing yourself to read things you know you won't like for the sake of saying you've read them won't make the reading easier.

    I hope this wasn't too rambly.
     
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  6. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, whatever you do, don't go around comparing your reading rate to somebody else! You're tackling difficult stuff, and those kinds of books take a while to digest. And I presume you have a 'life' as well. You're doing fine.

    I've always got several books on the go, but I'm retired. And lots of what I read is nonfiction and research material, which goes quickly. I like to pick up a book I'm in the mood for. If I have to drive myself too hard, I stop. Try something else. My year has been spent reading books outside my comfort zone, and it's been great. But I'm not keeping count. Reading is pure pleasure for me. It's not a task or a chore or a goal. I love learning new stuff and going new places, real or imaginary.
     
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  7. Teladan

    Teladan Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks for the comments. I definitely think I have a skewed view of books sometimes. My reading isn't always 'heavy', but even then I still think I put too much stock in books as if they're somehow more important or useful than other things. I can see that if I neglected to read something for a course, perhaps a book on ecology since that's what I studied, my worry would be more natural or understandable. But I seem to have the same feelings when I put down too quickly what is supposed to be entertainment. I'll try to keep this thread's advice in mind. Problem is, "Read when you want to" is definitely tricky for someone in their late twenties with the digital world at their fingertips... It's too easy to spend time watching shows or whatever it may be. I suppose the benefit of comparing my reading input to others' is that it pushes me when I might otherwise just resign myself to much less reading. And we come full circle. Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
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  8. ruskaya

    ruskaya Contributor Contributor

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    I had a similar experience with reading and college. After reading all day difficult things and left with tired eyes, it had become hard to sit down to read more, even if for pleasure. Actually, whenever reading for pleasure a sudden sense of guilt would take over, why wasn't I spending that time doing something "important" (for my career) instead? Since then, just switching reading-mode has been hard. When I was a child reading was about experiencing the world, now reading has a duty aftertaste. For me, fiction requires a lot of initial effort to immerse myself into the novel, so it is almost never just a light read even when the reading is easygoing. On the positive note, that has changed how I view reading and so also writing. With my previous attitude towards reading I could not write.

    @Teladan, I think your problem is in part how you formulate your goals, which makes you feel you need to read more and more. Instead, why not try to reframe reading in terms of what you will learn from a given book?
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
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  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My reading has become a lot like my music. A new "track" will interest me from time to time, but I'm old enough to have an era of both media types that I think of as "my stuff" and the rest is after me. Mostly from the 60's through the very early 90's.

    I know that's not really how you're looking at it, and that's just my point. We each have a different way of looking at it, a different meter by which we are measuring, and in venues like this one and others related to literature, there can be a lot of expectation imposed, both internally and externally. You see lots of threads go by to the tune of "have you read the greats", which invariably crumble into arguments about what that even means, but through those conversation we engage the idea that there is this ever-shifting external idea of what one should have under one's belt.

    I can see how that would lead to a sense of guilt over what you have or haven't read. I certainly agree with @ruskaya that perhaps you should look for a way to eliminate these imposed goal-posts and just worry about what you really want to get out of it.
     
  10. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    If this doesn’t make you feel better about how many books you average in a year, you’re beyond help. Ready?

    If I read two books in a year I’ve done very well. Sometimes I can only manage one. More often than not it’s none.

    I’m currently reading Heat Moon’s Blue Highways. I’ve been reading it every week day during my lunch break for the last 10 weeks or so, and I’m on page 55 (of 430).
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
  11. Teladan

    Teladan Contributor Contributor

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    No, no, it's not like that. I understand people will have highly variable circumstances. In my old job I had almost no time to read. People also struggle with mental health issues and the like. Thanks for writing.
     
  12. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    It doesn't sound like you're enjoying the books you're reading.
     

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