Last year I joined in a reading challenge with some friends and colleagues. Looking back I think it was actually my idea for us to follow this random list of categories as a way of directing our reading choices for the year. The word “challenge” is like a red flag to a bull for me – I was up for it! And I was. For a while. I enjoyed reading books that I might not otherwise have chosen and searching for the right book to fit the requirements of a particular category (“Book set in your home town was especially difficult!). 52 books for the year, one a week – easy peasy! I started the year off strongly and kept up the pace until right until the end. Then it just stopped being enjoyable. Reading, the biggest non-human love of my life, was becoming a chore. A job to get through before the fun stuff could begin. I pulled up short with just 3 books to go to complete the challenge. A part of me thought “just get on and read those 3 books”, but another, stronger part of me, knew it was time to stop.
When reading isn’t fun anymore something has to change!
And so I quit the challenge. Admitted defeat. Reassessed. Moved on.
The challenge is on again this year and I am enjoying hearing from others about how they are “reading the challenge”. But I’m not going to join in this time. I’ve made this my year of reading joyfully – the year I read what I want, when I want, how I want – no rules, regulations or requirements. And it feels liberating!
When I had my Sweet Pea three and a half years ago the loss of the time and sane head space to read was one of the biggest losses for me. I missed the time I had to delve into a book with no interruptions. I missed having the brain power to concentrate on something more intense than the directions on a tin of formula (and even that was a fucking struggle at times!). Now that I am starting to scrape some of that “free” reading time back I want to spend it wisely. I want to spend it reading books that I am truly enjoying, that spark something in me. Books that make me cry and laugh. Books that stretch me and carry me. Books that bring me joy.
What about you? What is your reading life like at the moment? Any great recommendations for me?