I haven’t read a book from start to finish in years. I can’t remember the last time that happened, not even in high school (hello CliffsNotes).
From time to time, people have asked what I’m reading or assume I love reading because of my writing background. The truth is that I don’t (or didn’t) love reading. I like reading magazine articles, both in print and online, but novels have become foreign to me.
I’m not proud of this. I know hundreds of writers have said reading makes them better writers (duh), so who am I to have called and continue to call myself a writer if I’m not regularly reading the works of others?
To be clear, I don’t want to become a novelist. I just want to become a better reader and writer.
But first I had to think about the reason I wasn’t reading. The reason I didn’t enjoy it or make it more of a priority. The reason wasn’t hard to figure out.
I was’t reading because I didn’t find it to be a productive use of my time.
How sad is that? I found that taking an hour out of my day to disconnect from everything except the story on paper in front of me selfish. Instead of getting lost in a story, I thought there were a million other things I should be doing.
I should be working on my blog. I should be replying to that text from a friend. I should be cleaning the mess in the kitchen.
The list goes on. I also think the amount of books to choose from overwhelmed me, so I didn’t read anything. I don’t do well with a lot of choice. Give me three options to choose from and we’re good.
So in order to fall in love with reading again, I had to reshape the idea that reading could add valuable time to my life, instead of taking time away.
I renewed my library card and hit the ground running. I started with Michelle Obama’s memoir and dedicated an hour to read each night. If it spilled over an hour I let myself take that time.
I started to think of reading as a form of self-care. Maybe this isn’t a revolutionary thought to some of you, but it was for me.
Each night I told myself that I was taking an hour to not only dive into a story I enjoyed, but I was taking an hour to cut out all other distractions. We live in non-stop, constantly connected world, so to take time for yourself to unplug from it all is so important.
I’m happy to report that I’ve completed four books in about two months. Each visit to the library now feels like a treat. A small, personal victory against old habits. By the way, how fucking cool are libraries? Shoutout to Louisville Public Libraries and the free resources and safe spaces they provide.
If you’ve found yourself in the same boat as me, take it step-by-step. Figure out why you’re not reading, figure out how you can fit it into your lifestyle, and figure out what you’d like to read. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people messaged me when I first spoke about this endeavor on Instagram saying how they have felt the same. A few people have sent me their new reading list. It’s a warm camaraderie I wasn’t expecting.
This is the part where I ask you to leave your book recommendations. My list is pretty short right now, so I welcome any and all suggestions. Go!