Reading and My Mental Sanity

I love to read. I’m in a book club. I’ve worn down the scanner strip on my library card. I typically finish reading over 100 books a year and Amazon.com is the major benefactor of my credit card charges.

So the times I am not actively glued to a book, I know something is very wrong.

On and off for years friends have told me they are “too busy to read” or “don’t have enough head space to sit down and read a book.”

I remained skeptical.

If you want to read, you read. It’s easy. And there are a LOT of good books out there, I’d be happy to list a few for you in case you need them.

And I’ve gone through some normal reading burn out before. After finishing a re-read of Harry Potter, or coming to the end of some other good series can send me into a funk. A funk where I put down every new book I pick up, mysteriously interested in none.

But typically, my burnout lasts a few weeks. I binge watch something on Bravo and I go back to having a book on standby, sneaking in pages while waiting for a friend to get to happy hour, while cooking dinner, or in my car when I get to work 15 minutes early. At most I go a month and a half where I can’t really find something I want to read and/or I want to take a break from reading all together.

That all changed this summer. July, to be exact.

With multiple events to plan and implement at work, I was feeling depleted. Like I’d go to work bright-eyed and bushy tailed and leave as if I had gone through a meat grinder. It was exhausting. And at times demoralizing.

I stopped reading and starting binge-watching Scandal, thanks in part to Netflix.

(Side note: if you haven’t watched Scandal yet, you should. It’s amazing. Or at least the first couple of seasons are, then I don’t know what happens because it gets less good.Maybe it gets better. I am sure one day I will find out.)

The binge lasted about a month. During my downtime I no longer grabbed for my Kindle, iPad or actual, physical book (they still exist!), as I would typically. I didn’t try to sneak in just one more minute of reading, like the book addict I was. 

At first I didn’t mind. It had been about a year since I went through a book burnout, and frankly I was due.

What surprised me was how long it lasted. And continues to last, because honestly, I am still going through it.

I did manage to read ⅔ of my book club book from last month. A huge achievement given my dry spell.

I read one other full book since July, but for the life of me I cannot recall the name of it.

And now, a friend has lent me a series that I am actually quite enjoying (The Pellinor series in case you were wondering. Also, the covers for these books are awful, so don’t pay those too much mind, what’s between the covers is what counts), but still I struggle to stick with it.

I’m easily distracted by my surroundings. A new puppy is keeping me on my toes. A job is taking up all my mental power. And I am struggling to figure out what I need to do to create balance for myself and for my environment.

What I do know is this: reading make me happy and I need to figure out a way to bring it back into my life.

For years, or at least the years since I graduated from college, I haven’t needed to make an effort to read. It just happened. Seamlessly.

Now, that’s not the case. I need to make a conscious effort to make reading a priority again. To have it embedded as an everyday occurrence in my life. Like brushing my teeth, or washing my face.

Little spurts of burnout are OK. That’s understandable, natural, and to be expected. But these longer bouts point to something else. A need to untangle the things in my life that are preventing me from being healthy and happy and obsessed with books. As I make changes in other aspects of my life, I will strive to build books back in. To make them the priority I need them to be.