I used to read so much my eyes would hurt. Quite literally, I was given +1 reading glasses as a kid, not because I had a sight impairment, but because I would read so much my eyes would become strained. I’d take a book with me everywhere, I’d be the first in the door on a library trip, and I still remember my library card number off by heart. 21728002501135. But it’s July, and I’ve read 2.25 books this year. WTF. What’s happened to me?
I’d like to tell you I don’t read books anymore because I’ve read them all, but we all know that’s not the case. I don’t read books because of several reasons that I’ve dug up through raw self-reflection that has me feeling embarrassed, guilty, and sad. I know I’m not the only one feeling book-less and desperate, so hopefully, you also know: you’re not alone.
Here are the four main reasons why I can’t sit down and read a book anymore…
1. Life tells me I’m too busy
To stop and read a book, would be to admit that I’m not busy. The word ‘busy’ in today’s world is the standard reply to “How are you?” If I were to say “I’m great thanks, I spent all day reading books in the sun”, I would be confessing to my lack of purpose and drive as an individual. I’d be viewed as lazy and they wouldn’t’ know what to say. Even though I know this is not the case (I own two businesses, manage 17 employees, and have a passion for saving the planet), I would still feel it. Perhaps I don’t read books because I care too much about what people think.
Related Post: It’s Time to Stop the Glorification of Busy
2. Reading books is for the rich and famous (or time-abundant)
Having time to read a book, is ‘Living the dream’. Huh? When I was seven and holed up in my attic nook, I did not realise I was ‘Living the dream’. Nowadays, if I were to explain that I spent half my weekend reading a book, my friends would become jealous. They wouldn’t look me in the eye. Those who read books are generally lying on the beach wearing a fake tan they got from an Instagram filter.
3. There are too many options
Whenever there’s a free moment for some ‘self-care’ (the buzzword hot on our tongues), I don’t feel like reading a book. I’m too exhausted from words and messages aimed at me all day; I just want to blob. My eyes are sore from looking at a computer screen up close, and maybe it’s just because I’m a writer, but I get over looking at words. Netflix and Lightbox become my go-to, plus they are social and include my husband. After days (and sometimes weeks due to his work) spent apart from each other, reading a book can feel very anti-social. If I’m not watching Netflix, maybe I’ll clean the house, get some exercise, or bake something. Reading books has fallen off my radar.
4. My mind is crazy
Today I did an experiment. I sat down, ate my lunch, and… read a book! Can you guess how long it lasted? 15 minutes. It was 15 minutes until the to-do list in my mind had become so big that I couldn’t focus on the words for any longer. My seven-year-old self would have been very disappointed in me. But that seven-year-old was living in a different time, a different technological culture. Since then, I’ve grown up in a society that moves from one thing to the other in a split second. My attention span has shortened, and my ability to sit down and simply exist is long gone. Thank you, social media, thank you, internet; you’ve ruined my book reading experience. Well done.
Related Post: The Art of Slow Living: Chasing Less, Living More
I adore reading, and I always will. I haven’t stopped, locked the door and thrown away the key, rather, I am working on relaxing my mind, recovering from the bombardment of information and what society tells me so I can read a book in peace. I still read it’s part of who I am as a writer, but I am finding it more and more difficult to justify the time I spend on book reading, and to fit it in. I’m not too busy, reading isn’t for the rich and famous, there aren’t too many options, and my mind can slow down. If my seven-year-old self could hear me now, she’d hit me over the back of the head with The Narnia Chronicles and tell me to get my priorities straight.
Are you feeling the same? Are you finding it hard to make time for ‘slow’ activities such as book reading? Feel free to leave a comment below.